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UK's red meat exports top £1.5 billion in unprecedented year

17 February 2021

AHDB

The UK's red meat exports valued at £1.5 billion despite COVID-19 shocks and increases in domestic demand.

During an unprecedented and challenging year for exports, 660,000 tonnes of beef, pork and sheep meat was shipped around the world – down just 3,777 tonnes on 2019’s record year, while overall value increased marginally.

According to the latest data from HMRC, shipments of pig meat, including offal, increased by almost 6% to 400,000 tonnes – worth £654 million compared to £609 million in 2019.

Exports of beef and offal reduced slightly from 184,000 tonnes in 2019 to 166,000 tonnes, worth £453 million to the sector. And while sheep meat and offal shipments dropped by seven per cent to 93,600 tonnes, the value rose by nine per cent from £408 million in 2019 to £447 million.

AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said the latest figures were a testament to the UK and its red meat exporters in overcoming the many challenges of 2020.

He added: “When you consider the difficult trading year we’ve had with the run-up to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, these full-year results are incredibly strong – with our pork exports even increasing in value by 7%.

“We have also seen an increase in domestic demand for red meat, which has slightly impacted the volumes available for exporting. With all of this in mind, 2020 has delivered some encouraging and positive results for our red meat exports.”

Latest figures show that exports of pig meat to non-EU countries rose by 17% in volume and 23% in value, year-on-year. And exports of sheep meat to non-EU countries increased by 22% in volume and 48% in value.

Japan provided a £5.4 million boost to the beef sector with exports rising from 734 tonnes in 2019 to 1,581 tonnes in 2020 – marking the first full year of trade after securing market access early in 2019.

Dr Hadley added: “2021 will continue to present challenges for our red meat exports given the global conditions, but AHDB will continue to work with government and industry bodies to help boost these figures through new and existing markets.”



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