It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention in the industry that beef has been at the forefront of the political agenda in the last week.
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson led a trade delegation to Hong Kong to promote beef exports, the highlight of which was a reception hosted by EBLEX at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and attended by officials, importers, restaurateurs and journalists. Guests were served a fore rib of beef, dry aged on the bone for 28 days, with carving and serving supervised by EBLEX foodservice manager Hugh Judd.
While Mr Paterson acknowledged that we have been exporting to Hong Kong for some time, importantly he added that it would act as a springboard for breaking into the Chinese market. As we’re well aware China does present huge opportunities, but facilitating market access is a long process and we are under no illusion that this will happen tomorrow. Market access could take a number of years as we saw with the pig meat sector but we are moving in the right direction.
That said, the Hong Kong trip succeeded in underlining the importance exports can and do play in contributing to our economy. It also generated considerable high-profile media coverage for our products in a region which is seen as key for future growth.
Not only did it celebrate the fact that beef rib cuts and other specified bone-in products can now be exported to Hong Kong from Britain, and showcased Quality Standard beef to potential importers for EBLEX, the importance of which can’t be overstated.
As the Secretary of State said in his 'diary of a trade mission', ‘This is a global race, and we’re not going to compete by sitting at home – let’s get out there and show the world how great Britain is.’