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Red meat: British exports worth 1.3 billion pounds

France represents the most important destination market in the UK with exports increasing by 23%

It is a very positive moment for the British red meat industry according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (Ahdb), the English body that collaborates with the Government and the meat industry to develop international opportunities for this product. The latest statistics from His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) highlighted that meat exports from the UK amounted to £1.7 billion in 2023, mainly driven by strong demand for British lamb on international markets.

And Europe is the main destination market for meat from across the Channel: the total value of red meat shipments to the EU during the period increased by 2% year-on-year, equal to £1.3 billion. The leader in terms of sheep meat imports is France, which represents the most important destination market from the United Kingdom with exports increasing by 23% in value and 23% in volume on an annual basis. Germany follows with exports growing by 15% in value and 12% in volume.

Italy also played a crucial role: imports of sheep meat from the UK in 2023 increased by 37.42% compared to the previous year, going from 2,656 to 3,650 tonnes. A figure that indicates a significant increase in the demand for British lamb on the Italian market in the course of just one year and which confirms the Belpaese as a strategic market for the meat industry across the Channel. Jonathan Eckley , head of international trade development at Ahdb, said: “Sheepmeat exports were undoubtedly a standout success of 2023, driven by demand from high-value markets in Europe and developing markets in 'West Africa, such as Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.'

While sheep meat exports prospered last year, beef exports recorded a decline of 15% in volume and 9% in value, a situation dictated by strong domestic demand, but weak demand from Europe. In Italy, imports of British beef last year remained approximately at the volumes of 2022: 3,256 tonnes of beef were imported compared to 3,206 the previous year, thus recording an increase of +1.56% . “Italy remains an important market for us,” concludes Eckley, “because the Italian consumer is aware of quality with particular attention to provenance and sustainability, all characteristics that British meat can offer.”

AHDB, which has been promoting English sheep and beef meat in Italy for over 20 years, has clear objectives for 2024. Eckley concludes: “We want to continue to control the Italian market and continue the good performances achieved last year. For us it will be essential to maintain relationships with the numerous partners and customers who have shown us trust and collaboration over all these years."

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EFA News - European Food Agency