The export data revealed that shipments of beef, lamb and pork topped £1bn from January to December last year, while a 2% rise in red meat offal exports pushed the total for all three sectors well above £1.2bn in value.
Figures show that exports to non-EU countries have remained strong, with beef exports to third countries increasing by almost a fifth to just over 14,300 tonnes (t). This has resulted in an 11% rise in the total value for UK beef exports, to £409 million (m).
The Asian market continues to be a key focus for meat exports with a 230% increase in the volume of high-value, chilled beef exported to Hong Kong in the last year, more than triple the value of the market just two years ago.
Total pork exports were up 4.8% on the previous year to 216,000t, with a value of £293m. Both EU and non-EU shipments increased last year – building on a record-breaking year for pork exports in 2016.
Last year was reported to be more of a “challenging” year for Chinese pork imports due to increased production both in China and the rest of the world. However, the UK has continued to hold levels with pork volumes sitting just above 40,000t.
Pork exports to the US have increased in value, rising 2.7% to more than £23m, with the UK’s reputation for producing high-welfare pork providing a gateway into the high-value foodservice sector.
Lamb exports to both European and non-EU countries performed well in 2017, with total volumes up 14% and value at more than £384m. Non-EU volumes have grown to 5,400t – up two-thirds on the previous year.
Jonathan Eckley, senior export manager for livestock at the UK’s Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), said: “This latest data shows that the UK meat export industry is in a strong position globally and able to build on the incredible figures we reported in 2016.
“AHDB is continuously working to ensure UK farmers and processors are fit for the future as we look to leave the EU. While Europe is still a vital market for our exports, it is important that we look at opportunities and gaining access to an increasing number of new markets further afield.”
The AHDB export team is looking to build on 2017’s figures by attending events and trade shows throughout 2018 to showcase high-quality beef, lamb and pork to global importers in existing and new markets.
Eckley added: “These trade shows play an important role in boosting exports of red meat and dairy to new and existing markets by ensuring that quality products from the UK are top of mind for buyers around the world.”