Strong UK meat exports in first half of 2017

Meat exports from the UK for the first six months of the year have seen strong year-on-year growth with markets outside the EU showing success. 

HMRC figures have revealed that exports of beef, lamb and pork from the UK have surpassed the £500 million (m) mark for the first six months of 2017 – up 18% year on year.

There has also been a 21% increase in offal exports, taking the total value of shipments from the three sectors to £582m.

Exports to non-EU countries have also risen, with the Asian markets providing opportunities for beef, lamb and pork.

In the first half of 2017, beef exports to countries outside Europe were up 45% year on year to almost 8,000 tonnes (t). In value terms, this is a 62% rise in value to £23.5m.

Third-country pork exports rose by nearly 4% in volume to 41,000t – more than half of which has gone to China where there has been a 6% rise in exports in the first half of the year, worth £24m. 

Total recorded lamb exports to both European and non-EU countries performed well for the first half of 2017, with volumes up 18% valued at £178m.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB’s) head of livestock export trade development Jean-Pierre Garnier said: “These latest figures paint a positive picture for the meat export industry. It is very encouraging to see an increase in exports to non-EU countries and a strong progression in value as this is an important area for our meat exports with the challenge of Brexit.

“AHDB recognises the importance of developing balanced international trade that does not rely solely on the EU, but we also cannot underestimate the importance of Europe as two-thirds of our meat exports are still destined for the EU.

“However, we understand the challenges that our meat industry faces and we must look at new exports deals and continue to work towards securing access to third countries.”

Markets such as Hong Kong and China led the growth of exports to non-EU countries this year – with the latest data showing a fourfold increase in chilled beef exports to Hong Kong as well as a 91% rise in chilled lamb.

Non-EU exports are expected to rise even further following the recent announcement of a £200m trade deal for pork access to China and a £34m deal to export beef to the Philippines.

AHDB Exports has been on a charm offensive of late, attending numerous food and drink events around the world during 2017 in a bid to showcase the UK’s high-quality meat on a global stage, with a focus on markets beyond the EU.

Garnier added: “We are targeting key markets outside the EU where we are confident meat exports can continue to add value. Working with government and other organisations in the UK, we have been able to help open up markets that have been closed to us for many years.”

Next month, AHDB will be attending Asia’s leading hospitality expo – the three-day Restaurant and Bar trade show in Hong Kong. It follows on from the Speciality Fine Food Show in Singapore last month and the SIAL exhibition in China in May. AHDB is also leading a mission of meat exporters to key African markets next month to meet with leading supply chain participants.

AHDB Pork also attended the American Food Fair in Chicago earlier this year in a bid to boost pig meat exports. The USA is a growing market for pork, with exports up by 2.6% in the first six months of the year to 4,500t.

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