The North American market is helping to boost red meat exports – with shipments of pork, beef and lamb all enjoying a strong start to the year.

Latest data from HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) shows continued growth during the first six months of the year in regions such as Canada and even the USA, where exporters face the challenge of a 25 percent tariff on pork exports.

Beef shipments to Canada have grown to 968 tons from a modest 26 tons during the same period last year. Exports of total pig meat, including offal, has increased by more than 400 percent to just over 500 tons, and lamb export volumes are up by 1,800 percent.

Despite the volumes still being low, compared to other markets, experts at AHDB say the latest figures show the potential to grow red meat exports in this all-important region.

AHDB Senior Export Manager Susana Morris said, “While we know that Canada is a small volume market at present, we are seeing shipments increasing with all three red meats enjoying growth from January to the end of June.

“Canada represents a strong potential market for our red meat exports, and it is imperative that we continue to focus our efforts on building on these promising half year results in the months and years to come.”

The US market has been more of a challenge for exporters since the 25 percent tariff on pork was introduced in October 2019 – which initially resulted in a steep drop in shipments.

While exports of pork are down, shipments have been steadily increasing since February from a low of 137 tons to a more impressive 724 tons in June – only 28 tons below the same period last year.

“The tariff imposed in October has obviously had a major impact on our pork exports,” added Morris. “We saw a considerable drop in shipments after they were imposed – with November through to February looking quite bleak for our pork exporters. 

“However, shipments have been steadily increasing and our June figures show that we are almost back to the same volumes of a year ago. While we are delighted to see this growth, it cannot be understated how important a free trade deal with the US is to our red meat sector.

“We export high end pork products to the US and there is a great deal of competition in the US market, therefore these figures are a testament to the strong relationships we have with customers in America and the high standards we operate here in the UK. Without either of these factors, we would not have seen shipments continuing at this pace with a 25 percent tariff.”

Beef exports to the US are also imminent after two plants in the UK met the requirements to ship to the US for the first time in over 20 years following the long-standing ban on EU beef. Once the final stages are completed, exports can begin immediately, worth an estimated £66 million during the first five years.

Source: AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board)