Environment Secretary commits to exploring new markets for British meat

Elizabeth Truss, Environment Secretary, has today welcomed the increasing global appetite for British meat as we enter the ‘Year of Great British Food’.

After meeting with representatives from the International Meat Trade Association (IMTA), Truss committed to exploring new markets for British meat.

“2016 is the Year of Great British Food and we will be taking every opportunity to showcase British food around the world,” said Truss. “Opening new export markets is a central part of our ambition for UK food and farming to lead the world.”

While touring London’s famed Smithfield Market, the Environment Secretary discussed the imminent Great British Food Unit, designed to provide practical help and expertise, with a special focus on producers trying to gain access to new markets for the first time.

In an effort to help food producers and farmers to export internationally, a 24-hour turnaround time for export health certificates has already been implemented by the government. This action allows the process of exporting British products internationally to speed up.

“I look forward to working with the industry to make the most of new markets overseas to ensure all food producers, large and small, can make the most of these opportunities attracting more business and growing jobs across the country,” Truss continued.

Meanwhile, chief executive officer of IMTA, Liz Murphy, said the organisation was excited about what the future holds for the industry: “Our members are benefiting from the opening up of the Chinese market to British pork and we welcome the Minister’s commitment to gaining access for British poultry soon and beef and lamb in due course. Exports enable the UK meat industry to maximise returns on the whole carcase.”

The IMTA, a member of the Government and Industry Exports Forum, represents importers, exporters and wholesalers. By working in conjunction with the industry, government will maximise export growth by utilising industry and government data in order to identify and target key markets for export growth that best benefit Britain.

It also aims to develop business cases for new markets, ensuring resources are targeted at the best and highest-value opportunities, as well as making sure that opportunities are capitalised on once market access has been secured by working with relevant bodies.

In addition, the government will work to develop products to meet specific demand in key markets to build upon the UK’s market share.

“IMTA works in partnership with government through the Export Forum, UKECP [UK Export Certification Partnership] and the Poultry ECUG [Export Certification User Group] all of which have helped to contribute to the significant growth in exports,” added Murphy. “Going forward it is critical that this partnership is maintained.”

Last year, British meat generated £1.27 billion to the UK economy. Demand for the UK’s chicken, pork, beef, veal and lamb have boosted total meat exports over the last four years by 20%, according to Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

It also claimed that since the UK Government opened up trade agreements to China in 2012, pork exports to the country have increased from £1m a year five years ago, to £31m last year.

Outside of the EU, British chicken and other poultry products are proving popular, mainly down to exports to South Africa increasing from £5m in 2010 to £36m in 2014.

Consumers are now able to guarantee their meat will be British as a result of new rules on country-of-origin labelling for pork, lamb and chicken, which came into effect last April.

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