Britain Seals Deal to Export of Seed Potatoes to China

China’s growing appetite for frozen french fries and potato chips will soon be fuelled by British raw material, now that UK International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox has secured an agreement to enable the export of seed potatoes to China.

Seal DealUK International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox (left) shakes hands with Ni Yuefeng, China’s minister of the general administration of customs, after signing a seed potato and dairy products export deal.The deal is expected to bring major benefits to Scotland, as approximately 70% of the 100,000 tons of seed potatoes exported annually from the United Kingdom come from Scottish farms. The overseas market for seed potatoes is already worth £90 million annually to the UK, with some varieties fetching up to £900 per ton.

China is the largest consumer of potatoes in the world. As the country’s demand for potato-based foods increases, the humble spud is now China’s fourth staple crop after rice, corn and wheat – with demand increasing at a rapid rate.

The seed potato export announcement comes on the heels of news that the British dairy sector is set to receive a multi-million pound export boost, following a meeting that Fox had with Chinese government officials to reach an agreement to allow the sale of UK dairy products made with milk from third countries.

“The rapidly-growing Chinese market offers huge potential for UK farmers,” said Fox. “According to research by Barclays, around 60% of people in China would actually pay more for a product, just because they knew it was British. With China expected to have 220 cities with a population of more than a million by 2030, that is a huge market that our potato farmers will now be able to make the most of. I’m delighted that this latest deal is set to boost our £67.5 billion trading relationship with China even further.”

UK Government Minister Lord Duncan added: “Scotland is known for high quality food and drink exports, and our seed potatoes are renowned for their excellence and breeding through scientific institutions such as the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. Leaving the European Union means we can pursue an independent trade policy, and the quality of our exports will drive new trading opportunities like this one.”

In a further move to open up its agri-food market and more efficiently feed its population, China also lifted a decades-long “BSE ban” on the imports of beef from the UK earlier this year – a landmark move for beef producers worth an estimated £250 million in the first five years alone.