The value of the UK’s red meat exports has reached its highest ever levels since records began, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has said.

UK red meat exports were worth £1.7 billion last year which, according to the AHDB, was partially driven by the rising prices of meat.

According to the latest data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the total value of red meat shipments increased 22% year-on-year, with over 609,000t exported around the world.

Beef exports gave the biggest boost to the export figures, with its value of shipment up nearly 46% to £640 million.

Pig meat exports reached £623 million, up 10% on the year before, followed by sheep meat exports which were valued at £503 million – a rise of 13% year-on-year.

International market development director at AHDB, Dr Phil Hadley, said the organisation is “thrilled” by the latest figures, which show 2022 as an “incredibly strong year for all three of our red meat sectors”.

“Last year, we saw strong growth in some of our key targets markets, such as Canada, Japan and Europe, which remains the UK’s most valuable market.

“We also saw new opportunities created for pork exports to Chile and lamb to the US, which both have the potential to help bolster these figures over the coming year,” he said.

Worldwide red meat exports

The AHDB said Japan proved an important market for UK exports for beef, with 3,175t shipped last year worth £16.3 million – a 68% rise in value.

Canada also increased its imports of UK beef with shipments worth £13.1 million – a 77% year-on-year.

The amount of pig meat exported last year increased six per cent to 372,597t. China has remained the largest importer of UK pork, taking 126,723t last year – valued at almost £203 million.

The Philippines remains the world’s third-biggest importer of UK pig meat. Its imports were up 33% to 33,861t – worth £52 million. Shipment to the US also increased, with 2022’s exports worth almost £28 million.

Sheep meat exports were up 7.8% in total, rising to 78,844t. The majority of this was exported within the EU, which made up 94% of the total shipments.

“These figures show the value of exports, and the benefits new markets bring to the UK’s red meat sectors,” Hadley said.

“We will continue to work with government and the wider industry to identify and open new markets for our exporters to ensure our meat is enjoyed in more countries around the world.”