Following HMRC figures released earlier this week, which showed that UK sheep meat exports in 2017 were up by 14% year-on-year, the Welsh red meat industry urged a continuation of free trade with the EU post-Brexit.
The value of the sheep meat business to the UK in 2017 was over £384 million (m), rising from £302m in 2015 and £327m in 2016, with 94% of lamb exported from Britain headed to the EU.
The statistics showed major increases in the volumes of lamb exported to a number of countries, including Germany (+25%), Belgium (+16%), Italy (+13%) and Denmark (+13%).
HCC market development manager Rhys Llywelyn urged continued free trade.
“Over the past three years we’ve worked hand-in-hand with processors to promote Welsh Lamb and earn new business, so it’s excellent to see export growth in markets we’ve targeted, such as Germany, Denmark and Italy,” he said. “We’re looking to consolidate and build on this growth. However, our current exports are helped by a competitive currency rate and the ability to trade without tariffs across a continent of 500 million consumers.”
Llywelyn said that even though new markets were coming on stream, the key EU market should not be forgotten.
“Exports to newer markets further afield are up, but are very small compared with countries such as France and Germany, where the PGI Welsh Lamb brand is well established, and we still don’t have access to trade with a number of key countries, such as the USA and China,” he said.
Drilling into the Welsh Lamb industry, Rhys added: “We export over a third of our lamb each year, and much more than that at times of peak production. UK consumption is static at best, and overseas consumers also prefer different cuts to domestic shoppers, which helps to earn value for the whole carcase.”