17/05/2012 06:06 BST | Updated 17/05/2012 06:08 BST

Britain To Export Thousands Of Pigs To China

It's not just cars that Britain is exporting in larger numbers - now you can add pigs to the list as well.

The UK is reportedly preparing to send thousands of pigs to China in a bid to boost our exports, and exploit their demand for high-quality pork.

There are reportedly plans to up our exports of British trotters to more than £50m annually.

China produces and consumes 50% of the world's pork. But Chinese pigs are often of an inferior quality, and even though it produces 46m tons of pork a year domestically demand has outstripped supply.

As a result healthy, high-quality British pigs will be sent to the China for about £1,000 each to breed and increase the Chinese numbers.

Food Minister Jim Paice has flown to China with a group of British farmers to finalise a deal for the sale, and will spend most of the week attempting to push for even more investment in British hogs.

"We used to sell breeding pigs to China but it all ground to a halt some years ago when they got worried about our disease situation. It has now opened again and clearly there is huge opportunity," Paice told the Telegraph.

Large White, Duroc and Landrace breeds are involved in the trade, and numbers are steadily increasing - not least because the pigs produce twice as many piglets a year as their Chinese counterparts.

The Chinese market is also keen to buy up the so-called "fifth-quarter" of pork product, the 'waste' parts British eaters don't want, for consumption overseas.

China's interest in the trade is a boon to an otherwise ailing British pork industry, which is being squeezed by high production costs, aggressive supermarkets and soft consumer demand.

According to the Financial Times, in the UK the pork industry has halved in value over 10 years.