China lifts ban on cheese imports

By Angus Mcneice | | Updated: 2017-10-24 00:10

UK cheese exporters have welcomed the decision by Chinese authorities to lift a ban on imports of soft cheeses, including British blue cheese stilton.

China banned imports of brie, camembert, roquefort, goat cheese and blue cheese in July because mould and bacteria found in the cheeses had not been approved by officials.

The ban was lifted on Friday following a series of meetings between European Union and Chinese officials, who were ultimately satisfied that the cheeses were not harmful to consumers.

The EU Delegation to China said in a statement it will hold a seminar later this year between European and Chinese experts to "facilitate the updating of the relevant standards, thus limiting the risk of such events re-occurring in the future".

Vincent Marion, co-founder of Shanghai-based importer Cheese Republic, had previously labeled the ban "catastrophic" in a WeChat post, and took to social media again on Friday to celebrate its reversal.

"Soft cheeses and blue cheeses are officially welcome again in China!" Marion said. "Thanks to the Chinese authorities and especially to the China Inspection and Quarantine of Shanghai."

Stephen Jones, director of UK cheese exporter Somerdale International, said he was "pleased to see the ban lifted".

"Cheese is a fairly unknown product in China so they are wary of dairy cultures and if they are in any doubt about food safety they stop it rather than take a risk," Jones told China Daily. "It's a very difficult market but there is a growing demand for high quality cheeses."

China imported more than $400 million of cheese last year, according to the China’s customs authority. Cheese consumption in China has been increasing at around 20 percent annually over the last few years, according to market researcher Euromonitor.

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