CHINA has lifted its longstanding ban on imports of beef from the UK, in a landmark move for British producers estimated to be worth £250 million in the first five years alone.

More than 20 years after the Chinese government first imposed a ban on British beef in the wake of the BSE outbreak, this week's milestone is the culmination of several years of site inspections and negotiations between UK and Chinese government officials.

China is currently the UK's eighth largest export market for agri-food, with over £560m worth of food and drink bought by Chinese consumers last year.

This week's announcement will allow official market access negotiations to begin, a process which typically takes around three years.

Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: "This marks an important milestone in growing our meat exports to this all-important market.

"Today's news follows years of collaboration between AHDB, government and industry to make this a reality and we now look forward to seeing UK beef exported to the country for the first time in over 20 years. We will now begin work on the export protocols and approvals to allow commercial shipments to begin."

Market round-up

In the week ending June 27, the GB live-weight prime lamb SQQ (Standard Quality Quotation) stood at 216.24p per kg, which is nearly a 22p decline from the previous week. For the first time since last November, the prime lamb measure has dropped behind previous year levels, to nearly 2p below the same week in 2017.

Due to the great weather conditions and farmers wanting to get on with making hay and silage there were fewer cattle and sheep presented at markets.

C&D Auction Marts ltd sold six prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 234p per kg and an average of 202p.

In the rough ring eight beef cows sold to 172p and averaged 152p, while 17 dairy cows peaked at 128p and levelled at 119p.

The firm also sold 392 prime lambs to a top of £106 per head and 241p per kg to average 224p (-11p on the week).

The 208 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to £135.50 for Texels and average £88, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £73.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £60.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 294 prime lambs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £114 and 229.3p to average 219.1p (-6.1p).

Eight heavy cast ewes sold to £81 for Texels and averaged £77.88, while 48 light ewes peaked at £64 for Blackfaces and averaged £52.05. Twenty-one hoggs sold to £86 and averaged £44.52.