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Asia offers opportunities for UK red meat exports

Coronavirus has significantly impacted global trade, but there remains a myriad of opportunities for UK red meat exports – particularly in the Asian marketplace.

9 June 2020, at 7:00am

During the first AHDB export webinar, around 180 delegates were told that while the pandemic presents serious challenges for the sector, the UK is ‘weathering the storm’ and continuing to ship red meat to key target markets.

But one of the key messages from the webinar was that there are further opportunities to be had, particularly across Asia in markets other than China, such as Taiwan, Singapore and especially Vietnam, to complement the valuable ongoing trade with the EU.

According to Rupert Claxton, Meat Director of GIRA, there is potential for the UK pork sector in Vietnam where there has been a significant drop in domestic production as a result of the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.


Latest research shows that so far this year, pork production has fallen by almost 17 percent with expectations of a further drop to around 52 per cent by the end of the year.

“We predict it could take a decade for the country’s pork sector to recover,” added Rupert. "Therefore, there is a real opportunity to potentially increase volumes over the next five to ten years.”

Rupert also explored how Asian markets are emerging from coronavirus, with almost 90 percent of Chinese employees back in work. However, in restaurants and canteens trade remains down between 30 and 40 percent and tourist travel is very limited.

He also stated that with the US expected to increase its pork exports to China following a brief hiatus as a result of the coronavirus, competition for the Chinese marketplace looks set to intensify – therefore increasing the need for the UK to further develop a wide range of export opportunities.

During his presentation, AHDB’s Head of Asia Pacific Jonathan Eckley continued to stress the importance of markets such as Taiwan and Singapore, by highlighting the ongoing work of AHDB’s export team in these key markets.

He said: “While inward and outward missions have been cancelled due to coronavirus, the work of AHDB’s export team continues and we are working collaboratively with agencies and partners in a number of markets to fly the flag for the UK’s red meat sector.”

Jonathan also gave an overview of the UK’s red meat exports in 2019 – which saw over £1.5 billion worth of pork, lamb and beef shipped to markets around the world.

He then highlighted the challenges at the start of 2020 following lockdown in China, which resulted in some logistical disruptions affecting shipments. However, by the end of March UK pig meat exports had again surpassed year earlier levels, driven by increased demand as logistics started to ease in China. But he stressed that the UK was continuing to "weather the storm" and cope with the many challenges it faced.

Jonathan said: “We know that it is a very challenging time, not just for the UK, but work is ongoing to promote the high quality of our red meat to new and emerging markets. Travel restrictions will continue to cause difficulties for us and other nations, but we are finding new and innovative ways of working to ensure that the UK is well positioned to benefit from all future global opportunities.”

If you missed the webinar you can listen here . A second webinar is due to be held on 2 July and will focus on the US market.