Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is spearheading the biggest ever food trade delegation to China to start filling a £1 billion hole in the British economy.
The UK currently imports £1.2 billion more dairy produce than it exports, meaning there is huge potential for growth at home and abroad.
Mr Paterson will this week meet dairy companies, trade associations, industry experts and retailers in Shanghai to begin developing trade with the world’s biggest grocery market.
He will also be promoting tea, desserts, beer, meat, and confectionery produced by British companies. A record number of small- and medium-sized British businesses will be in Shanghai to sell their produce to 30,000 importers at the giant Food and Hotel China exhibition.
Mr Paterson said:
“From chocolate to cheddar, China’s population is getting a taste for dairy, and Britain’s world-class food industry can supply that demand.
“I’ll be helping British businesses grab the opportunity with both hands, so our country competes and thrives in the global race.”
China’s dairy consumption is increasing because of changing lifestyles and diet, and there is a window of opportunity while domestic production cannot meet this demand. The UK has room to significantly expand production while other EU countries are restricted by milk quotas until 2015.
As the first step towards developing more trade with China, Defra will share the insight into the Chinese market with other businesses in a dairy export summit in the New Year.