UK signs major export deal to ship seed potatoes to China

China’s growing taste for chips and crisps will soon be fuelled by British produce, as International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox secures a deal which enables the UK to export seed potatoes to China.

The deal is expected to bring major benefits to Scotland, with around 70% of the 100,000 tonnes of seed potatoes exported annually from the UK coming from Scottish farms.

The seed potato export market is already worth £90 million to the UK a year, with some varieties fetching up to £900/t.

China is the largest global 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.

It follows news that the UK dairy sector is set to receive a multi-million pound export boost, with Dr. Fox yesterday (August 23) meeting with the Chinese government to reach an agreement to allow the import of UK dairy products made with milk from third countries into China.

The International Trade Secretary signed the deal during his visit to China. Dr. Fox is also meeting businesses and senior Chinese government ministers to discuss further trading opportunities between the two countries.

International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox said: “The rapidly-growing Chinese market offers huge potential for UK farmers.

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 UK potato farmers will now be able to make the most of.”

Brexit benefits

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.

Linking the world’s largest consumer of potatoes, China, with Scotland’s exceptional potato seed is a welcome next step for the UK on a global stage.

Rob Burns, head of crops export trade development at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), said the UK was one of the first western countries able to export seed to China.

“It’s been achieved through a lot of hard work and the great reputation of UK seed potatoes which are rightly renowned around the world for their high health status and high quality.

“I expect the Chinese market will be particularly interested in processing varieties used for chips and crisps as there is a big demand for those products,” he said.