Beef bucks flat meat export trend

Exports of meat and animal products in 2014 were broadly flat on the previous year, but beef was up by 6%, with only salmon, chocolate and cheese ahead of it among top export product categories.

Speaking at IFE yesterday (23 March), farming minister George Eustice announced that UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports grew by 2.6% in 2014, with dairy the top performer, up 8.8% to £1.4bn.

A Food and Drink Federation (FDF) exports report shows that beef’s 6% export growth saw its value increase to £465 million, but chicken exports dropped 1% to £355m.

Specific success stories included a 51% increase in meat exports to Hong Kong, £35m of which was beef, an increase of 169%. Elsewhere, exports of chicken to South Africa rose £7.7m to £24m, one of the top 10 value gains to non-EU markets.

The UK’s food and drink export growth was highest to non-EU countries, up 9% as opposed to a 1% rise to the EU 28. The FDF added that the food and non-alcoholic drink sector has continuously outperformed on exports, growing strongly even throughout the recession.

The organisation’s economic and commercial services director Steve Barnes said: “This performance shows that British food and drink is in demand across the globe – a testament to our quality brands and innovative products. Food and drink is bucking the trend when it comes to exports and this is great news for the UK economy. High demand from international markets for our food and drink must be at the heart of the country’s strategy for economic growth and we look forward to working with the government to capitalise on this opportunity.”

Eustice said: “Today’s new figures are further evidence of the global appetite for our top-quality British food, which was worth a record £103bn to the UK economy in 2013. It is particularly encouraging to see UK dairy exports at a record high, as our farmers seize new opportunities to export abroad and grow their business.”

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