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Kirstin Barney

BY KIRSTIN BARNEY

China a target for British organics

Select committee into promoting British food raised the potential of China as a new export opportunity for organic produce

China a target for British organics

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China could play a key role in buying British organic produce as the UK looks to promote its food worldwide after Brexit.

With Britain entering a brave new world of trade agreements as it departs from the EU, promoting British produce in the global market will be essential to exporting successfully beyond Europe. 

An Efra select committee inquiry explored reducing trade barriers between China and Britain, as well as the current success of the Food is Great campaign and how the UK Government is working with industry partners to help global recognition of UK food and drink.

At the meeting in Westminster, Lee Holdstock, trade relations manager for the Soil Association, highlighted the 60 per cent increase in demand for organic produce as a result of greater awareness of health benefits and sustainable farming practises.

"We've seen terrific growth from 2012 to 2016 for example, the global market grew from just over 40 billion to 80bn euros," Holdstock said.

China is on its way to becoming the top importer of foreign food products, and with an increase in awareness of farming practises and greater investment in organic products, exporting British organic produce to China could be one way to encourage and increase global exports outside Europe, Holdstock said.

Chinese import regulations currently require an audit of every UK farm supplying produce; this proves especially time consuming and complex for multi-ingredient products, where several audits must be carried out. 

Discussions at the committee addressed the limitations of these regulations and the possibility of increasing trade opportunities if the Chinese and British government could make agreements to reduce the need for these individual farm audits.  

The matter of promoting the high standards of British organic produce, which often meets higher standards than other countries, was also discussed. It was agreed that it was down to individual companies to advertise and promote their produce, although the government, in many cases, might need to facilitate this. 

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