Greater access to the Chinese market will help bolster British agri-food prices, according to the Director of Communications at the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Guy Attenborough. He was commenting in the wake of the announcement that the UK has appointed its first Agriculture and Food Counsellor in China.

“AHDB will provide the bulk of the funding for the new post,” he said.

“Fundamentally, exports drive opportunity for British agriculture. And China represents a market with tremendous potential in this regard. UK food companies are already exporting significant quantities of pork to China. Obviously, we want to build on this. There should also be opportunities to develop outlets for UK beef, lamb, potatoes dairy products and speciality horticultural crops within this market over the coming years.”

Attenborough confirmed that small amounts of UK dairy products are exported to China at the present time. But beef is still a case of “work in progress”.

“It normally takes 8 years to secure Chinese import approval for food products. And where British beef is concerned, we are about half way through this cycle,” he said.

“Accessing the Chinese market is wholly dependent on developing an open relation with the Chinese authorities that s based on mutual trust. We have already achieved this where British pork is concerned. And we hope this will allow us to quickly develop other food trading relationships with China.”

Karen Morgan, based in the British embassy in Beijing, will now represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting British food and drink produce to China, and firms looking to open new trade links. The role will involve identifying opportunities for new markets and further developing our excellent relationship with key Chinese authorities.

UK food and drink exports to China totalled £215 million in 2013, up from £136 million during the previous year.