Until now, while France has been able to export fresh and frozen pigmeat (and some by-products such as pigs’ trotters and ears) to China, Beijing has blocked imports of processed products, such as raw and cooked ham, or dry and cooked sausage.
But this is about to change. China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has released a note confirming that its minister Zhi Shuping has signed two technical agreements with France, which will allow such products to be sold in China.
These include a management protocol for tracing French meat exports to China and a Sino-French memorandum of understanding on food safety regarding imports and exports. A related quarantine health protocol regarding the import of breeding pigs from France into China has also been signed.
INAPORC’s Fanye Meng told GlobalMeatNews that once some additional administrative issues were resolved, French processed pigmeat exporters would enjoy a "new business opportunity". Meng said: "It is hard to estimate what the trade volume will be, but France still needs to do a lot to let Chinese consumers to know about its pork processed products." Exporters would try and orient products to adapt to Chinese consumers’ tastes regarding hams and sausages, he added.
Tristan Dufes, press and communications counsellor for the French embassy in China, said his government had been pushing the Chinese to resolve the remaining obstacles swiftly, so that French processed pork product exports could begin before the SIAL international food fair in Shanghai, from May 13-15. He was confident of success: "Cured ham, dry sausage, cooked ham and cooked sausage from France will…be exported to China," he told GlobalMeatNews.
This would build on existing co-operation and confidence regarding the previous approval by Chinese health authorities of 18 French slaughterhouses and 39 cold stores, enabling the sale in China of fresh and frozen pigmeat products. That said – volumes have been low so far – with just 80,000 tonnes exported in 2013 according to China Customs.