UK export strategy on beef cuts pays off

UK levy board AHDB Beef & Lamb has said its strategy to shift from exporting carcases to pricier cuts of meat has been rewarded as global trade of the latter rose by 11% last year. 

Exports of beef cuts and offal have recorded strong growth in overseas trade when compared to trading figures from 2014, according to data from AHDB Beef & Lamb. This, the UK levy board said, had validated its strategy to move away from selling whole beef carcases to focus on the more lucrative trade of selling offal overseas at a higher price than in the UK.

Beef cuts accounted for 86% (86,000t) of UK beef exports last year. A year before that, in 2014, beef cuts amounted to 75% (84,448t) of exports internationally. By placing more emphasis on the sale of beef cuts, AHDB said this had added extra value to the carcase and helped the UK maximise returns through the supply chain.

“It’s encouraging to see the strong performance of cuts and offal in what was undoubtedly a challenging year for exports of beef and lamb,” said Jean-Pierre Garnier, export manager for AHDB Beef & Lamb.

“Our long-term strategy of moving towards adding value to the sector, with a focus on the export of cuts rather than carcases, is bearing fruit, as is our commitment to cultivating markets for offals which have limited value and appeal domestically.”

Full-year export figures showed British exports of beef offal were up by 8.1% in volume terms compared to 2014. Garnier said the domestic market for offal was small, but there was a big market outside Europe as offal exports to non-EU markets rose by 26% last year.

Exports of sheep offal rose by 36% in 2015, enjoying a huge surge of growth from outside the EU.

AHDB Beef & Lamb said recent trade missions to South Africa and the Ivory Coast, in 2012 and 2013 respectively, were followed by a significant increase in the volume of beef offal exported to these markets.

“The examples of both South Africa and the Ivory Coast clearly demonstrate the success of our approach in adding value to the beef and lamb sector,” added Garnier. “Our ambition is to continue building on these successes and to continue to add value to the sector through our export development world as we move forwards in 2016 and beyond.”

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