The agreement follows a similar agreement last year on the export of live pigs. The UK’s pig industry has been lobbying for the inclusion of semen in agreements with China, on the grounds that Chinese pork producers prefer to source semen from the same country where they source sows for breeding.
Half the world’s pigs are in China, and improving pig genetics is key to China as pig meat is one of their main sources of protein. China wants to increase the efficiency of its production, whilst minimising the environmental impact.
Four artificial insemination centres in England and Northern Ireland are expected to start exporting the semen in the New Year.
Britain is lobbying Beijing to also be allowed to export pig trotters – a waste product in the UK pork industry widely eaten by Chinese diners. Exports of trotters could be worth as much as £7.5m a year to the industry in Britain.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We’re doing all we can to ensure that businesses up and down the country reap the rewards from our relationship with China. And that includes our pig farmers.
“This new deal to export pig semen will be worth £45m to UK firms and means Britain’s best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world.
“And we’re not stopping there – we’re talking to the Chinese about serving up pigs trotters on Beijing’s finest dining tables. That would be a real win-win – a multimillion-pound boost for Britain and a gastronomic treat for Chinese diners.”