Pork exports to China by Belgian companies have not always been easy. A first protocol agreement between China and Belgium was signed in 2009. In June 2015, a new milestone was reached when a memorandum of agreement was signed between the Belgian and Chinese food agencies, under the guidance of Federal Minister Willy Borsus. After years of careful negotiations, including participation in a Belgian state visit to China, and in very close cooperation with the Chinese and Belgian Embassies, Federal Minister Willy Borsus and the FASFC (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) have concluded an agreement with China. Pork can now be transported directly to China, which will have a positive impact on transport times, cost price and food safety.
Qu Xing, Chinese Ambassador in Belgium:
We are very pleased to be able to welcome Noordvlees Van Gool as our new partner. As the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork, China attaches great importance to safe products of a high quality. The introduction of a direct export model not only means an enormous progress in the quality of the pork products; the strict Belgian food control will also help Chinese food safety to improve even further.
Noordvlees Van Gool exports up to 70% of its production on an annual basis
Export is one of the top priorities for Noordvlees Van Gool, and it already occupies a prominent position among Europe’s leading pork exporters. The company, based in Kalmthout, exports as much as 70% of its production. Up until now, the principal export markets have been Germany and Poland. When the new slaughterhouse in Oevel becomes operational, Noordvlees Van Gool is expected to export 56,000 tons a year to China. This would bring the total export by the Noordvlees Group to 365 million euros with a total turnover of 450 million euros.
Dirk Nelen, CEO at Noordvlees Van Gool, explains:
This is a historic day for us in terms of pork exports to China. As one of Europe’s top pork exporters, supplying top quality has always been a priority for our company. In addition, with this agreement we can offer our Chinese customers an even safer and fresher product. Over the next two years we expect the Asian market, and the Chinese market in particular, to grow to represent between 20 and 25% of our total exports. With an expected export figure of 56,000 tons per year, this breakthrough will have a positive impact not only on exporters but on the complete Belgian pork export chain.
Boost for Belgian agriculture sector and pig farmers
Willy Borsus, Federal Minister of Agriculture, explained:
The Belgian pork sector is currently facing a number of challenges in the field of planning, the environment and manure processing. This agreement will give a major boost to the entire agriculture sector, an added value that will strengthen our position at an international level. After years of intensive cooperation we have succeeded in building a relationship of mutual trust with China, which can only benefit our sector. I am convinced that there is still much that we can learn from one another in the future.
To celebrate this new cooperation, Noordvlees Van Gool today organised a major event. Apart from the Chinese Ambassador and Minister Borsus, Herman Diricks (CEO FASFC), Patrick Schifflers (Chairman FEBEV), Thierry Smagghe (CEO Belgian Meat Exports) and Leo Delcroix (Belgian General Commissioner for the World Expo) all made speeches, as did Dirk Nelen, CEO Noordvlees Van Gool. This was followed by the official signing of the export certificate for one of the consignments.
About the Noordvlees Group
The Noordvlees Group is active in the slaughtering and marketing of pigs and valorisation and marketing of offal (red organs). Founded in 1955 as a family business, Noordvlees Van Gool is today one of the top 5 Belgian slaughterhouses. Based in Kalmthout, it has a total slaughtering capacity of almost 1,250,000 pigs a year. Today the Noordvlees Group is one of the select group of large Belgian holdings in the meat processing industry that is still privately operated. As a family concern, the Noordvlees Group has guaranteed top quality across many decades.
The Noordvlees Group consists of: the Noordvlees Van Gool pig slaughterhouse in Kalmthout, BGMC in Lochristi plus the Euforbia and Euforbia Bulgaria transport companies. These are all distinctive for their own specialities and a strong expertise in the meat processing industry. Noordvlees Van Gool recently also entered into cooperation with Vanden Avenne, Sus Campiniae, to build a new abattoir in Oevel with an expected slaughtering capacity of 2,500,000 pigs a year.