British pork producers are close to gaining access to the lucrative Chinese market for the first time.

Four veterinary surgeons from China's Certification and Accreditation Administration arrived on Wednesday and will be here until 11 September to assess the pork supply chain from farms to abattoirs, cutting plants and export cold stores. The group is being hosted by Defra, Bpex and Quality Meat Scotland representatives.

The visit is regarded as one of the last remaining links in the chain of accreditation for pork exports to China.

British companies already exported £20m of pork and pork products to the Far East, said Bpex director Mick Sloyan. "However, China is by far the largest and most attractive market and has strong demand for cuts that are less popular in Europe. After all, half the world's pork is eaten in China."