The announcement follows a trip to China this week with the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
The new role, made possible with significant funding from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), will help British firms tap into China’s growing interest in speciality foods - a market expected to be worth a potential £39 billion this year.
Karen Morgan, based in the British embassy in Beijing, will represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting quality 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.
Our world leading food and drink businesses are steadily building their share of the lucrative Chinese market with a record £215 million worth of produce exported in 2013, up from £136 million in 2012 – this new appointment is expected to see these figures grow further.
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Elizabeth Truss said:
The UK has a worldwide reputation for producing top class, quality food and drink and we are increasingly seeing British firms taking advantage of the growing demand in China for our produce, from whisky and pork to Yorkshire tea.
The appointment of our first agriculture and food counsellor in Beijing will strengthen our trade and negotiating presence in China and help UK businesses take advantage of the vast opportunities the Chinese market represents.
This is part of my ambition for the UK food and farming sector to lead the world and is a key part of our long-term economic plan.
Ms Morgan, who currently leads Defra’s Competitive Farming team, will take up the role of Agriculture and Food Counsellor in the spring.
Ms Morgan said:
I am delighted to be taking on this role. It is a very exciting time to be in China, where the opportunities for British exports are vast and growing all the time. I look forward to building close relationships both with British companies and the Chinese authorities and hope that we can really grasp some of the market opportunities in coming months and years.
Welcoming the appointment, AHDB Chairman Peter Kendall said:
This new post represents a long term strategic levy investment by AHDB, together with our continued close cooperation with the China Business Council. I know the AHDB export team is looking forward to working with Karen to expand our activities in China’s meat, livestock and dairy markets and to help create new opportunities for fresh produce and cereals.
Ms Morgan will be responsible for representing the interests of the UK food and farming industry in China and for providing strategic direction in this important area. Her role will be to deepen Britain’s co-operation with China across a range of issues relating to agriculture, food and drink production. She will also provide UK businesses and Government organisations and Ministers with an understanding of the Chinese landscape and opportunities to support UK producers in opening up more markets.
Karen Morgan has a wide range of experience of working in agriculture and environment related roles in Government. She was private secretary to farming ministers in the current coalition Government as well as the previous Government. She worked closely with the AHDB and other industry organisations in leading the Green Food Project and Future of Farming Review, and more recently in shaping the future delivery of the Common Agricultural Policy.
AHDB estimates the value of pig meat trade to greater China in 2014 at £50 million.