Farming minister sees ‘huge potential’ in exports

After speaking at the AHDB Outlook Conference on Wednesday, food and farming minister George Eustice told MTJ of UK food export successes so far, as well plans to exploit potential around the globe.

The MP outlined his prioritisation of meat exports and his desire to use the growing world population as a vehicle for increasing business with areas like China and Japan.

In an exclusive interview with MTJ, Eustice said: “We’ve got a growing world population, currently 7 billion, forecast to go to 9 billion, and also an increasing demand for Western products in countries like China and India. So there’s huge potential there.

“We’ve already had some successes – our exports of beef have doubled in the last five years, we’ve seen a 14% increase in lamb exports just in the last year, and exports of pork to non-EU countries have gone up by nearly a quarter in the last three years. We’ve had some good wins already, but there’s more to do, particularly on markets like Japan, and we’ve got an official working closely to see that we can get those markets open and get the export certificates we need in place.”

Speaking in the plenary session at One Great George Street in Westminster, the minister said that now that the shadow of BSE is passing, he is working hard to clear barriers to exports,

Another key part of Eustice’s speech was on the subject of food procurement. The minister wants to see public bodies using UK produce as much as possible.

He said: “If government bodies buy the £2bn they spend on food from local sources, it would be a big boost to the industry.

“I’m really keen that we look creatively at how we procure that food to ensure British farmers and producers get a proper shot at this and we’re doing a number of pieces of work at the moment to see if we can have a more rounded approach to procurement for local schools.”

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