Minister wants the UK to step up for chicken feet exports

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-03-21 18:37

A British minister has urged the government to get its foot in the door of a lucrative export market by selling chicken feet to China.

Speaking during a debate about the impact on poultry producers of the UK's decision to leave the European Union, George Eustice, minister of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, explained to Parliament that one man's trash can be another's treasure.

"It never ceases to amaze me that chicken feet are apparently a delicacy in China and can attract a high value there- far higher than in the UK," Eustice said. "There are real opportunities to create value from parts of the carcass for which there is no market in the UK or, indeed, Europe."

Deep fried or in recipes such as dim sum, chicken feet can be found on the menu in many regions of China. Other parts of the chicken that Brits tend to find unappetizing, such as the gizzards, are also popular among Chinese diners, while chicken breast is viewed by many as the most bland part of the bird.

Around 930 million chickens are slaughtered for meat in the United Kingdom each year. The vast majority of the feet are wasted. This is in contrast to the practices of large poultry exporters, such as the United States, which sold$170 million worth of chicken feet to China in 2015.

The UK exported 291,107 metric tons of fresh and frozen poultry meat in 2015 -three-quarters of which was sent to European nations. Hong Kong was the third-largest market for UK chicken, accounting for 6 percent of exports. UK poultry producers have argued in the past that exporting chicken feet could add as much as 15 percent to a bird's total value.

Previous administrations have attempted to get chicken feet exports to China off the ground. In 2013, former UK environment secretary Owen Paterson made enquiries with Chinese authorities about what British producers would need to do to meet China's stringent regulatory requirements on meat off-cut exports.


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