UK red meat exports surpassed the £1.2 billion (€1.35 billion) mark in 2017, according to the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs.
The data shows shipments of beef, lamb and pork topped £1 billion (€1.12 billion) from January to December last year.
And a 2% rise in red meat offal exports pushed the total for all three sectors well above £1.2 billion in value.
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 14,300t.
This has resulted in an 11% rise in the total value for UK beef exports, to £409 million (€460 million).
The Asian market continues to be a key focus for meat exports with a 230% 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.
Total pork exports have remained strong in 2017 – up 4.8% on the previous year to 216,000t with a value of £293 million (€329 million). Both EU and non-EU shipments increased last year – building on a record-breaking year for pork exports in 2016.
'A strong position globally'
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 gain access to an increasing number of new markets further afield.”
Last year was 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 continued to hold levels with pork volumes sitting just above 40,000t.
Pork to the United States has increased in value, rising 2.7% to more than £23 million (€25.8 million), with the UK’s reputation for producing high-welfare pork providing a gateway into the high-value food service sector.
Lamb exports to both European and non-EU countries performed well in 2017, with total volumes up 14% and valued at more than £384 million (€431 million). Non-EU volumes have grown to 5,400t - up two thirds on the previous year.
The AHDB export team is 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.
In April, the team will showcase UK beef, lamb and dairy products at the Food Hotel Asia event in Singapore, followed by the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May where high-welfare pork will be promoted to the high-value food service sector.
In May, AHDB will also attend SIAL in Shanghai – China’s most important meat show. This show is related to SIAL Paris, where beef, lamb, pork and dairy products from the UK will take centre stage in October, at what is the largest food show in the world this year.