Government pledges to open new markets for meat

Meat remains a very important part of the UK export mix, and the priority of the UK government is to open new markets, according to Defra secretary of state Elizabeth Truss.

Speaking during a flying visit to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) stand at the Sial trade show in Paris this week, Truss said there had been progress in opening up the US market, and she wanted “to make further progress in China, particularly in pork”.

“Food and farming is worth £100bn to the UK economy and it’s one of the fastest growing industries,” she said, adding that she would be supporting that growth by taking part in direct negotiations in China with a trade visit to the Chinese government in early December. “Pork will be one of the things on the agenda,” she added.

Truss said UK meat production fitted into the government’s ‘Great’ campaign to promote the British brand, with meat offering high standards of production and welfare.

She said she was also working to raise the profile of the agriculture section on the domestic market, both with the public and government. “I’m trying to make it a bigger priority, and opening up public perception about the industry.”

She said forthcoming country-of-origin labelling would help drive awareness and foster a positive change in culture, but they would need to go further. “There’s more we can do on getting PGI status for some of our products,” she added.

According to a report from Defra, figures show the UK government has helped 2,500 food and drink businesses to sell their produce abroad in the past 12 months – more firms than ever before – generating £300m for the UK economy.

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