The UK has exported £500 million worth of pork, beef and lamb so far this year, representing an increase in value of 18% year on year. Exports of beef to non-EU countries has risen dramatically, with an increase of 45% for the first half of 2017 – some 8,000 tonnes of beef with a value of £23 million has been shipped from the UK. Offal exports are also on the increase, with a 21% increase in offal shipments across three sectors.
Lamb has experienced an overall rise of 18% in volume, and pork is up 6% on last year. Sheep meat exports to non-EU countries has doubled in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The recent pork export deal with China and the beef export deal with the Philippines will see a further increase in export values in the latter part of 2017.
The rise in exports in general is good for the UK agricultural industry, but it is the huge gains in exports to non-EU countries that provides the most reassurance that we will be able to continue trading globally after Brexit. UK produced meat is in demand globally for the reputation of high welfare standards and quality, so providing this can be maintained the outlook for exporters and farmers is good. Asian markets provide the best opportunities for the UK, as they are looking to us for guidance on farming and welfare practices and they are also experiencing population growth and a rise in economic standards for the average family, meaning more people can afford to eat meat regularly.
Jean-Pierre Garnier, head of livestock export trade development for AHDB welcomed the news, but advised caution as two thirds of UK meat exports are destined for the EU. He said “These latest figures paint a positive picture for the meat export industry. It is very encouraging to see an increase in meat exports to non-EU countries and a strong progression in value… but we also cannot underestimate the importance of Europe… We must look at new export deals and continue to work towards securing access to third countries.”