Pork exports up nearly 5% in 2017

UK pork exports increased by 4.8% to 216,000 tonnes with a value of £293 million in 2017.

Both EU and non-EU shipments increased last year, on a record-breaking year for pork exports in 2016. China remains a key market. Last year was generally 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 40,000 tonnes, despite a fall in EU exports to China.

Pork to the United States has increased in value, rising 2.7 per cent to more than £23 million, with the UK’s reputation for producing high-welfare pork providing a gateway into the high-value food service sector, AHDB said.

The data shows shipments of beef, lamb and pork topped £1bn from January to December last year. An additional 2% rise in red meat offal exports pushed the total for all three red meat sectors well above £1.2 billion in value, according to the latest figures from HMRC.

The 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. This has resulted in an 11 rise in the total value for UK beef exports, to £409 million.

The Asian market continues to be a key focus for meat exports with a 230 per cent 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.

Lamb exports to both European and non-EU countries performed well in 2017, with total volumes up 14 per cent and valued at more than £384 million. Non-EU volumes have grown to 5,400 tonnes – up two thirds on the previous year.

AHDB’s senior export manager for livestock Jonathan Eckley 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.”

He said the AHDB export team would be 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.

This includes the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May where high-welfare pork will be promoted to the high-value food service sector. In the same month, AHDB will also attend SIAL in Shanghai – China’s most important meat show.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.