Signed during the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the UK, the deal is estimated to be worth £75m for beef and £52m for lamb over the first five years of access by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
The agreement follows a series of visits and negotiations between UK and Japanese officials, as well as an inspection of UK beef and lamb production systems in 2018, hosted by Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, DAERA, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the UK Export Certification Partnership.
The Japanese ban on British red meat was imposed in the wake of the BSE crises in 1996.
Britain’s farming minister George Eustice welcomed the agreement. “The opening of the Japanese market is an excellent result for beef and lamb producers across the UK and demonstrates confidence in our high standards of food and drink.
“As we enter a new era as a global exporter, unlocking this market marks a major step for future trading relationships and signals our commitment to supporting our food and drink industry to export more British produce.”
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news for our farmers and producers and it follows years of hard work by government, AHDB and key industry stakeholders.
“Access to this lucrative new market is a testament to the high quality produce and world-renowned standards we have here in the UK. We are confident this new deal to export beef and lamb to Japan, alongside our existing pork trade, will create some exciting opportunities for our beef and sheep producers.”
Rhys Llywelyn, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) market development manager, said: “One of the greatest barriers to growing Welsh red meat exports is the historic ban on UK lamb and beef which some countries retain.
“Japan and India are among the countries we’ve been prioritising in terms of achieving market access, working as part of UKECP. We met with Japanese government inspectors during their visit to Britain in the summer and have been proactive in providing all the reassurance they need on the excellent quality and traceability of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.
“Our red meat may find ready markets in Japan’s growing premium hotel and restaurant industry. The Japanese market also demands beef tongue and other types of offal, often at higher prices than these products command in the UK.”