The announcement was made during the first AHDB export webinar, where 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.
One of the highlights 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 Vietnam, to complement the ongoing trade with the EU.
Rupert Claxton, meat director, GIRA, said 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.
The latest research shows that so far this year, pork production has fallen by almost 17% with expectations of a further drop to around 52% by the end of the year.
“We predict it could take a decade for the country’s pork sector to recover,” said Claxton.
"There is a real opportunity to potentially increase volumes over the next five to 10 years.”
Claxton added Asian markets are emerging from coronavirus, with almost 90% of Chinese employees back in work. However, in restaurants and canteens trade remains down between 30% and 40% and tourist travel is very limited.
US pork exports
He said 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, Jonathan Eckley, head, Asia Pacific AHDB, stressed how important markets such as Taiwan and Singapore are by highlighting the ongoing work of AHDB’s export team in these key markets.
“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,” he said.
Eckley also gave an overview of the UK’s red meat exports in 2019 – which saw over £1.5bn 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.
“We know 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,” said Eckley.
“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.”
Click here to see the webinar. A second webinar is due to be held on July 2, which will focus on the US market.
AHDB, established in 2008, is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain. It supports meat and livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs) in England; horticulture, milk and potatoes in Great Britain; and cereals and oilseeds in the UK.