Perhaps the most important change in international commerce of meat over the past 40 years has been the emergence of Asia and Brazil as major trading blocs.
Asia is now the most dynamic region in the world not only in purely economic terms, but also in meat trading. The population is growing, but within this, meat consumption is also growing. Rising wealth is spawning new super-rich and well-off middle classes. Demand is largely met by the increase in local production and some countries, such as India and Thailand, have become important exporters. But above all, the region must be considered as a key opportunity for British businesses.
Products including many types of offal are needed to fill demand as local delicacies. Premium products, which are not so price-sensitive, are also sought by top-class retailers and restaurants. And agriculture technology, livestock genetics, consultancy and technology transfer are also in demand.
There are some successes for British firms; important genetics and know-how contracts were signed recently with Cambodia and Malaysia and Asia has become the second-largest destination for UK pork exports after Germany. English and Scottish quality beef have also returned to Hong Kong.
Yet to trade meat or breeding stock, markets must first be opened and, with regards to beef, only a small number of Third Countries still permit imports. The present collaboration between Defra and our sector is bearing fruit, but there is plenty left to do. This means visiting these markets in collaboration with our embassies and high commissions and pressing decision-makers to overturn existing bans. The most relevant example is the final decision on the opening of mainland China to British pork, which we hope will happen soon.
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