Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Why beef and sheep meat exports remain vital to the industry

Despite current challenges in the global market, continuing to expand export opportunities for beef and lamb remains crucial to the industry. This week’s guest blogger, AHDB Beef & Lamb export manager JP Garnier, outlines the ongoing importance of our export work in continuing to add value to the sector.

The world meat market has been very good for the last five years, but we have to accept that it has been, and continues to be, more difficult of late. The strength of Sterling against the Euro, for example, affecting exports in the Eurozone is well documented.

Current difficulties being experienced in the Chinese economy and falling commodity prices have combined to present a challenge to the industry in terms of our export work. However, it’s vital that we persist with our long-term approach on exports.

This approach remains strategic, with the focus on the export of cuts to add value to the carcase. Significantly, our strategy to focus on the export of lamb cuts, not carcases, has led to an increase from 35,800 tonnes in 2013 to 43,500 tonnes in 2014. Exports of boneless cuts of beef also increased last year. Exports of offal and fifth quarter products have risen significantly. Another key area of added value is our drive to secure and develop markets for 5th quarter products, in particular to non-EU markets where these items are highly valued. Despite the challenging market conditions, our exports of these products to non-EU markets have increased by 144 per cent and 121 per cent for beef and lamb respectively, contributing an additional £12.8 million to the value of exports.

The clear message is exports continue to have a significant role to play. For example, around a third of our lamb production is exported, and we have increased our promotional work in France, which represents our biggest market.

Earlier this year we also highlighted the importance of non-traditional EU markets for sheep meat, with volume shipments to Poland, Norway, Austria, Denmark and Sweden more than doubling since 2010. While our traditional European markets for sheep meat still account for 97 per cent of exports to member states, we can’t stand still. It is therefore imperative that we seek to maximise the full potential of these new opportunities.

To this end, we have a comprehensive programme of activity this autumn to continue with our plans to identify potential overseas market opportunities for beef and lamb to help fully utilise the carcase and benefit the whole supply chain.

Next month, we will spearhead a trade mission to Africa – the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Gabon – where population and income growth has presented potential opportunities for fifth quarter products in particular. We will lead a trade delegation, visiting importers in all three markets to help establish how we can capitalise on them.

We will also have a strong presence at the
Restaurant and Bar Show in Hong Kong where around 20,000 key players from the local foodservice and retail will visit. There are significant opportunities for higher end cuts of beef and lamb, further demonstrating the importance of finding export markets for all types of cuts from the cheapest to the dearest.

Similarly, in October, we will also be at
Anuga – the world’s leading food fair for the retail trade, foodservice and catering market. Again we will be championing the cause for beef and lamb to a global audience.

Exports remain high on the agenda in terms of helping drive the UK economic revival. Beef and lamb have a role to play in that, while helping deliver better returns throughout the supply chain. Our export strategy therefore remains one of the cornerstones of our work, and we will continue to work closely with industry, UKTI and Defra to put ourselves in the best position possible to capitalise on the global market opportunities available to us now and in the future.