The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said a new market access deal has secured exports of cooked UK poultry meat to Japan.

The deal builds on a 2021 agreement to export raw poultry meat to Japan.

The department said the new agreement will enable a smoother trade of cooked poultry meat to Japan and will benefit UK farmers, meat processors and exporters.

Defra said the industry estimates that this market could be worth over £10 million in the next 5 years.

Negotiations were led by Defra and its agriculture attaché and colleagues based at the British Embassy in Tokyo, with support from the British Poultry Council (BPC), South Kesteven District Council and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Food and Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

“British poultry is rightly celebrated as some of the best in the world and I’m delighted that new high value products can now be enjoyed in Japan.

“I’d like to pay tribute to our agri-food attaché network who work hard to secure trade opportunities like this and fly the flag for UK farmers.”

UK poultry meat has been exported to Japan since the market access deal for fresh and cooked poultry was secured in 2021, but avian influenza (bird flu) outbreaks in the UK led to restrictions on the trade.  

UK deputy chief veterinary officer (CVO), Dr Jorge Martin-Almagro, said: “This market access agreement is one more positive step forward for the UK poultry industry and is testament to the quality of their meat.

“In the face of ongoing challenges posed by avian influenza, it is a real achievement to have secured a deal which allows the exports of these valuable UK poultry products.”

Moy Park

UK poultry producer, Moy Park, is the first to be officially registered to export cooked poultry to Japan under the new agreement from one of its facilities in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

International business development manager at Moy Park, Beatriz Curran, said: “We are incredibly proud to be the first UK business set to benefit from this fantastic export opportunity.

“As a company, we are wholly focused on the highest standards of food safety, integrity and animal welfare and so we are thankful to collaborate with industry and partners to successfully reach this new market.

“With the momentum from this progress, we are confident that we can grow this export opportunity even further across our facilities given the technical excellence, focus and energy of our talented team and partners.”

Poultry exports

Minister for international trade, Nigel Huddleston, said the agreement is a “significant win” for British poultry farmers and producers who can now export their produce to the Japanese market.

“Unlocking trade barriers around the world increases opportunities for British businesses and is key for growing exports, driving economic growth and creating new jobs as we look to hit £1 trillion of exports every year by 2030,” he said.

Chief executive of the British Poultry Council (BPC), Richard, Griffiths, said: “We welcome the good news of market access for cooked poultry meat exports to Japan.

“Industry has worked closely with government over the years to open doors for businesses producing world class standards of safe, affordable, nutritious food and high value poultry breeding stock.

“Following today’s announcement, we thank the Defra market access team and all government officials involved for securing exciting opportunities for BPC members, putting food on every table round the world despite the challenges at hand, including successful negotiations of regionalisation for highly pathogenic avian influenza.”

Griffiths said the BPC is looking forward to continuing its work building, maintaining and enhancing crucial markets and relationships.