Pork producer Chinese export setbacks

Watton-based pork producer Cranswick Country Foods which is fighting to export to China said selling to the country was 'quite key' to the expansion of its business.

The plight of the company - which employs 900 people in Norfolk - has been highlighted to the Prime Minister this month after Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman and MP for Beverley and Holderness Graham Stuart criticised the Food Standard's Agency for not approving exports to China from its plant near Hull.

Although Cranswick has FSA approval to export from its Watton site - . which has seen a �10m investment since it was bought from the Bowes family in 2009 - it believes an administration error has meant it does not appear on the AQSIQ website - the Chinese equivalent of DEFRA.

Chief operating officer Adam Couch said he was unsure as to whether it was an error in the UK or China, but the company was in talks with departments in both the UK and China.

'It is very frustrating. We are trying to gain access to different markets,' he said.

'We have put substantial investment into our operations. It just adds a further strength in terms of accessing third markets that are extremely important in taking items that we wouldn't consume in the UK.'

Pork products such as trotters, rinds and offal are among those exported from the Watton plant.

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Mr Couch said that there had recently also been a demand for cuts such as shin meat and shoulder meat.

'There has been a rise in the affluence of the consumer,' he added.

The FSA said this week that it now expects to grant the site approval in Preston, near Hull.

An FSA spokesman said: 'The FSA has been working with Cranswick Country Foods to ensure their plant (Preston) meets the conditions for export to China laid down by the Chinese authorities. Our plant inspector has visited Cranswick on a number of occasions in the last few months and we expect to be able to approve the plant for export of pig meat to China once the standards set by the Chinese authorities have been met.'

Cranswick represents several well-known brands, including Sainsbury's, Tesco Finest, Jamie Oliver, Simply Sausages and Weight Watchers.

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