Clinching the deal, which would include sausages, was a goal of a China-Denmark protocol signed in 2008, but procedural and health controls impeded the launch of sales in China.
However, an expert from Denmark’s meat industry association the Danish Agriculture & Food Council (DAFC or Landbrug & Fødevarer) said it is now just a matter of getting the “final approval”.
DAFC director, trade and market relations, Jan Laustsen told GlobalMeatNews: “There has been very close contact with the Chinese authorities and mutual visits in order to document the high level of food safety and improve knowledge of the Danish production system.”
China 'very important'
Following the initial signing of the deal, a confirmatory signing was completed by the Danish minister for food and agriculture and his Chinese counterpart in 2010. Since then, “Inspections have been carried out,” Lausten said, adding: “Now we only need the final approvals and certificates.”
Obviously, it was worth the wait given the sheer size of the Chinese market, he said. “Denmark exports heat treated products including sausages to many countries around the world, but we regard the Chinese market as very important with a lot of potential.”
“The DAFC has great interest in the Chinese market in general, and we have for some years been trying to get market access for Danish companies producing heat treated pork products including sausages.”
Market to open 'soon'
During a visit to China this month, Danish minister for environment and food Eva Kjer Hansen expressed hopes that Denmark pork sausage exports to China would start soon. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA or Fødevarestyrelsen) said it was unsure exactly why the process had taken so long.
However, “China has followed a process of careful analysis of the safety of the products and it has taken a long time for the authorities to be able to come to Denmark for the required inspection of production facilities,” Knud Østergaard, the DVFA division head told GlobalMeatNews.
Jens Hansen, head of press for Danish Crown – which claims to be the largest pork processor in Denmark - said the Chinese market will open “pretty soon” adding that the long wait was no surprise: “It takes time for things to happen."
'Ready to sell'
Once the approvals are secured, it is expected that Danish Crown’s Tulip Food company and 3-Star A/S, which is owned by Finnish group Atria Scandinavia, will receive permission to sell export heat treated pork to China. As Danish Crown already exports non-heat treated pork meat to China, “we already know our customers” there, said Hansen. “We are all ready to sell.”
Of Denmark’s total heat-treated pork products exports, comprising dried and cooked sausages, “around 60% is exported to EU countries and the rest to countries outside the EU”, said DAFC chief advisor and head of pig production Erik Kam.
In 2013, Denmark exported a total of 33,374 tonnes of cooked and dried sausages or 878 million Danish Krone ($124.9m). In 2014, these exports dropped slightly to 33,093 tonnes or DKK867m ($123.4m), Kam added.