Red meat sector vital to UK economy

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Red meat England Agriculture Uk Beef Lamb Livestock Pork

Red meat sector vital to UK economy
A new report has concluded that the English red meat sector makes a “significant” contribution to the UK’s economy.

The Real Value of Red Meat report, which was produced by Matrix Evidence and commissioned by England’s meat levy bodies, revealed that the English red meat sector contributes a total of £1.75bn ($2.76bn) to the economy. Around £906m ($1.4bn) of this is from employment, with a further £760m ($1.2bn) of income generated over and above employment contributions.

The report found that if England’s red meat sector were to become unsustainable, 20% of the 96,000 people currently employed on English cattle, beef and pig farms would fail to find work in other industries and face unemployment as a result. It added that the 772,000 people employed in related industries such as animal feed and processing industries could also be at risk.

“In addition to providing employment in farming directly, the English red meat industry creates demand for a range of allied industries. These include pre-farming and farming inputs (such as animal feed and veterinary services), food processing, wholesale, and retail,”​ it said.

The UK economy would also lose out on the £66m ($104m) of savings in land management costs and £13m ($20.5m) of savings in CO2 emissions per year currently generated by the red meat sector compared to other land uses, the report concluded.

“It is interesting to note the value added over and above the expected large contributions to the nation’s economic output and employment levels. For instance, the analysis demonstrates that red meat farming produces less CO2 emissions than alternative uses of the land, for instance crop farming, may. Furthermore, the farming of land reduces the costs of managing land that would be needed if it did not have an agricultural use,”​ it said.

The report added that other benefits would also be lost, such as as the aesthetic value of livestock-grazed land, citizens gaining a sense of pride in an English red meat industry, and contributions towards UK self-sufficiency for food.

“The English red meat industry plays a significant role in the self-sufficiency of domestic production to consumption. This is of key importance as the country’s self-sufficiency ratio has been in noticeable decline over the last decade,”​ it said.

The report is the first of its kind to calculate the net contribution of the English red meat industry and predict the economic impact of losing it.

Dr Kevin Marsh, Matrix chief economist and co-author of the study, said: ​[Matrix’s analysis] demonstrates that the red meat industry makes a significant contribution to the English economy; an annual net contribution of £1.75bn. This is as comprehensive and robust an estimate as possible, based on the data available from bodies such as Defra and the ONS, and follows HM Treasury guidance for economic analysis.”

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