MORE pork was exported last year than at any time since 2000, just before the start of the last outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Total exports of pork and pork products hit 256,000 tonnes, which was worth more than £325m.

The biggest single market was Greater China, including Hong Kong, which took 57,000 tonnes.

Peter Hardwick, Bpex international manager, said the increase was largely due to the efforts of Bpex, in conjunction with Defra, to open new markets, particularly outside the EU. China was the highlight, but last year also saw re-invigorated trade with Japan.

He said: “We believe there is considerable scope for this to grow further as we increase the number of approved export plants and hope shortly to reach agreement on the export of pigs trotters, which are estimated to represent 40 per cent of the trade to China.

“We are also working on opening other markets across South East Asia as well as Russia.”