North America, Hong Kong and the Middle East are potentially lucrative markets as the English trade looks to spread the risk caused by currency movements when trading abroad. Traders are also looking to counter poorer trading within Europe, also caused by currency fluctuation.
While sterling has strengthened marginally against the euro in recent months, which has contributed to a cooling of returns from exports to the Continent, its poor performance against the US dollar has mirrored that of the euro, making English products more competitive on Third-Country markets.
Opportunities for the English have also strengthened in markets where they are competing against the New Zealand and Australian trades because Antipodean currencies are comparatively strong, making UK-exported beef and lamb more competitive than it might otherwise be, despite weaker markets.
Peter Hardwick, head of trade development at the English beef and lamb marketing and promotion body, Eblex, said although the euro is making trading more difficult in Europe, the current situation is creating more opportunities on world markets. “We’re still performing poorly against the international benchmark dollar, down 6.72% in the last year*, which is making our products attractive in non-EU countries.”
He said there was huge interest in English beef and sheep meat from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, potential for greater trade with North America, and a soon-to-be reopened Hong Kong market to UK bone-in-beef.
Focusing on opening additional global markets has helped push up beef exports outside the EU by 150% and sheep meat exports by 193% in the last two years.
* Figures for period from 31 May 2011 to 31 May 2012 from Sauder FX - Pacific