Actions that the Government could take to support the opening of key markets to UK red meat exports were discussed at an industry roundtable organised by EBLEX.
The meeting was hosted by Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) chairman John Godfrey during Anuga, one of the world’s biggest food trade fairs, in Cologne.
It saw representatives of many of the major UK meat processing companies sit down with Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson, representatives of Defra and UKTI, and the UK levy bodies.
The roundtable focused on identifying specific export markets which would benefit from additional Government support, with the Environment Secretary keen to hear about particular issues which the Government could take an active role in resolving.
Pig meat export issues were discussed in relation to China, in particular the need to reach agreement on an expanded range of cuts which could boost export volumes to that market by as much as 40 per cent.
The need to focus resource to open up the potentially huge Chinese market to UK beef and lamb was a key point. While gaining market access to China for meat is a necessarily lengthy process, industry representatives highlighted that engagement at the highest level is required now in order to make significant progress.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “UK farmers produce some of the best quality meat anywhere in the world. Its reputation has helped boost our food and drink exports by nearly 50 per cent over the past decade.
“I want to work with the industry to open up more trade and tap into emerging markets, which is why I’ve just launched the International Export Action Plan. I also plan to visit China in November to increase trade for UK meat.”
AHDB chairman John Godfrey said: “It is very reassuring to see the high level of both interest and expertise the Environment Secretary has in the export arena and the fact that he spent two days at Anuga is testament to this.
“We’ve had some very positive developments as far as red meat exports are concerned in recent years, particularly through the work of the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP). However, our ambition now is to step these efforts up to the next level, which can only be done with further Government support.
“The commitment of the Environment Secretary to ensure action is taken on gaining access to certain key markets will be universally welcomed by the industry.”
At the event, the Environment Secretary committed to holding a follow-up meeting early next year in order to update the industry on the progress that has been made so far.