LONDON – The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) named the United Kingdom's first agriculture and food counselor to China.

Karen Morgan, based in the British embassy in Beijing, will represent the interests of British food and beverage companies that export to China in addition to companies with ambitions to tap into China's growing interest in specialty foods. Defra estimates the value of China's specialty foods market at £39 billion ($59.2 billion). The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) estimates the value of pork meat trade to China in 2014 at £50 million ($75.9 million).

"The UK has a worldwide reputation for producing top class, quality food and drink and we are increasingly seeing British firms taking advantage of the growing demand in China for our produce, from whisky and pork to Yorkshire tea, said Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. "The appointment of our first agriculture and food counsellor in Beijing will strengthen our trade and negotiating presence in China and help UK businesses take advantage of the vast opportunities the Chinese market represents."

Morgan will provide strategic direction to the UK food and farming industry while informing UK businesses, government organizations and legislators with an understanding of the Chinese landscape and opportunities for UK producers to open new markets in China.

"I am delighted to be taking on this role," Morgan said. "It is a very exciting time to be in China, where the opportunities for British exports are vast and growing all the time. I look forward to building close relationships both with British companies and the Chinese authorities and hope that we can really grasp some of the market opportunities in coming months and years."

Morgan brings to the post a wide range of experience in agriculture and environment related roles in government. She was private secretary to farming ministers in the current coalition government as well as the previous government. She worked closely with the AHDB and other industry organizations in leading the Green Food Project and Future of Farming Review, and more recently in shaping the future delivery of the Common Agricultural Policy.