The Far East is exactly what it says: very far in the East. So ignorance and misconceptions on the region's meat market from Europeans are commonplace. This is prejudicial to our industry, as Asia is increasingly leading the world economy and the world meat trade.
The idea that the Far East imports only low-priced fifth-quarter products and not quality meat is erroneous. Take Singapore, a country famous for its lively restaurant scene. The island state's beef market has become saturated with high-priced beef of all types, from Japanese Wagyu beef to premium US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Argentinian beef some grain-fed, some grass-fed, some Aberdeen Angus or Kobe, some organic. Organic pork, branded and Kurobuta (Berkshire) is offered in most butchers' shops, supermarkets and many gourmet restaurants.
Fortunately, the lamb market is not saturated and there is room for premium products, and even plenty of demand for English Berkshire pork and British pork ribs. High-quality meat is also sought in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and, of course, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Offal is not considered a low-value item either and, surprisingly, retail prices can exceed those of fresh meat.
Another misconception is that markets are far too large and too difficult to be tackled effectively. But, for instance, Singapore and Hong Kong count only 4.2m and 10.5m inhabitants respectively and are wealthy countries easy to access and trade with.
UK lamb and pork are allowed for export to Singapore, and lamb, pork and under 30-months beef are allowed in Hong Kong. This is a small and useful start, but too few countries allow the imports of UK lamb and beef, and progress with China on pork remains painfully slow. Yet Hong Kong, which has become the second-largest market for British pork, shows that this potential can be exploited.
01 - 03 November, 2016
China Foodtech 2017
07 November, 2016
Butcher’s Shop of the Year
01 December, 2016, 8:30 - 13:30
Policy priorities for the UK food, drink and farming industry