Friday, 7 June 2013

Red meat’s royal seal of approval on the global stage

Securing new export markets has been and continues to be one of EBLEX’s key strategies for beef and lamb. It is vital to a healthy global market, with cuts matched to where the markets are and production maximised where it is most efficient and sustainable. It also helps underpin the domestic beef cattle and sheep prices.

This week, in collaboration with BPEX, we proudly showcased what we have to offer the global market to key embassy staff and parliamentarians during a barbecue in Westminster. The event was also graced with a special message from HRH The Prince of Wales was relayed by Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) chairman John Godfrey.

Against the beautiful backdrop of Westminster’s Garden Museum guests, including Food and Farming Minister David Heath MP, former Food and Farming Minister Sir Jim Paice MP, Beef and Lamb All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) chairman Neil Parish MP, EFRA Select Committee Chairman Anne McIntosh MP and Bill Wiggin MP, were treated to a selection of barbecued beef, lamb and pork dishes. They heard from HRH’s letter of support how he was particularly encouraged that the UK was, after 15 years of setbacks, again a major player in the global market.

From left: Food and Farming Minister David Heath MP, AHDB chairman John Godfrey, EBLEX chairman John Cross and EBLEX sector director Nick Allen

 In his letter HRH said: “Our climate and geography produce some of the best grassland and this, coupled with our high standards of animal welfare, means we have a product of unrivalled quality, tenderness and taste. We are also able to boast robust assurance schemes, meaning that there is full traceability within the meat supply chain. The last few months have thrown into sharp relief just how crucially important this is for retailers and, ultimately, for customers.

“Every steak, every leg of lamb, every pork chop is the product of skills passed down through generations of farmers who, by their skill and industry, have created one of the most beautiful and iconic landscapes in the world.”

Since August 2010, the AHDB, through EBLEX, has helped open more than 60 new non-EU export markets for beef and sheep meat alone. Pig meat continues to conquer new boundaries with China and Australia among the recent nations with whom trade has begun. It’s a great story we have to tell, although we should not underestimate though the importance of the EU nations where the bulk of our exports still go.

Exports of sheep meat now represent 36 per cent of UK production and are worth £357.1 million to our economy. For beef, we have grown exports to 16 per cent of UK production, with a value of £388.9 million. This is from a standing start of zero when exports of beef fully resumed in 2006. Pig meat exports are a continuing success story, with £308 million sales overseas last year, totalling 241,800 tonnes.

As we know, there is huge potential for further export development and a reciprocal open trade between our nations is key to that. Our barbecue event not only celebrated our existing relationships with countries where we already export beef, lamb and pig meat, but will hopefully help facilitate the creation of new ties with key embassy staff who enjoyed some of our products in a quintessentially English setting.

From left: EBLEX chairman John Cross, Beef and Lamb APPG chairman Neil Parish MP and EBLEX sector director Nick Allen