Red meat drives UK food export growth

Increasing international demand for British red meat has helped drive total UK food and drink exports over the £9m mark.

Research commissioned by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has revealed that food and non-alcoholic drink exports were worth £9.23bn in 2008, an impressive 20% rise in value terms on the year before. The FDF noted that the buoyant red meat sector in particular boosted overall performance.

Report author and market research manager of Leatherhead Food International Chris Brockman said: “These figures represent yet another impressive performance from the UK food and drink exporting community. The rebounding red meat sector has boosted overall performance, with UK lamb and beef exports together now back up to a level of nearly half a billion pounds.”

Total meat exports were up 38.3% in 2008, driven primarily by a 43.9% increase in exports of lamb to £263.0m and a 69.3% rise in exports of beef to £212.7m. Lamb growth was primarily concentrated in France, with a 43.8% growth in exports to the French market.

Beef exports to Ireland and The Netherlands also saw strong growth, increasing by 49% and 72% respectively. “British beef is regaining some of the markets it has lost over the last decade, with recent supply problems in South America contributing to a shortage of beef on international markets also assisting UK suppliers,” said the FDF report.

British pork also enjoyed a resurgence in 2008, with exports climbing by 52.6% to a value of £134.6m. Key to this growth was a jump of 52.6% in pork exports to Germany, which is now the UK’s number one market, worth £48.8m. Sausage exports also continued to grow, up 19.5% to £13.8m.

Accounting for 79.8% of UK’s food and non-alcoholic drinks exports in 2008, the EU is still the main market for British food, although exports to the Continent were slightly down on the previous year.

Central Europe is one of the stand-out regions for exports, with growth fuelled by the demand for a wide range of UK food and drink products in the former Eastern Bloc countries. “The markets of Central and Eastern Europe represent some of the fastest growing opportunities for British products,” said Brockman.

Exports to Hungary were up 74.3% to £40.2m; exports to Poland were up 53.6% to £116.4m; those to Latvia were up 51% to £8.6m; to Slovakia up 45.2% to £11.5m; and to Lithuania up 32.7% to £9.7m.

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