The Swiss have just been given a licence to export pigs' trotters to China to feed a growing hunger for the delicacy.
A new middle class of Chinese are buying increasing quantities of meat, but the country cannot match supply with demand, hence the Swiss intervention. Pigs' trotters are considered more nutritious than other types of pork, and are more expensive to buy. Eating them is thought to ward off wrinkles.
An export licence has just been awarded to five Swiss firms that work together in a chain - two Swiss abattoirs, two meat processing companies and Swiss Nutrivalorexternal link, a company that recently opened a CHF20 million ($20 million) factory to clean and trim trotters before shipping them off to China. The factory in Oensingen in northern Switzerland can process 20 tons per day.
Strict hygiene rules
It took these companies a year and a half to fulfil the strict hygiene requirements imposed by the Chinese authorities, who insisted that pork and beef products be separated during processing to avoid the risk of cross contamination with diseases such as BSE, also known as Mad Cow Disease.
Thanks to the Sino-Swiss free trade agreement signed in 2013, Swiss products are subject to lower customs duties, which reduces the sale price of trotters in China.