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Leadsom launches new export drive as UK pork prospects look bright

18th Oct 2016 / By Alistair Driver

Against a backdrop of an upbeat air surrounding the British brand on global markets, Andrea Leadsom has used a visit to the world’s largest food trade fair to launch a new plan to grow exports.

Andrea Leadsom1Speaking at the SIAL event in Paris, the Defra Secretary outlined a plan she hopes will bring a £2.9 billion boost to the UK economy.

For the pig sector, things are already moving in the right direction on the back of the favourable exchange rate, strong Chinese demand and positive global sentiment towards British pork.

Briefing journalists in Paris, AHDB’s head of meat exports Jean-Pierre Garnier urged UK farmers to produce more meat to satisfy burgeoning demand.

Mrs Leadsom is hoping further advances can be made with the new International Action Plan for Food and Drink, which will see Government and industry working together to boost food and drink exports over the next five years. 

The export plan

The plan identifies nine markets across 18 countries with the best potential for growth, including China, where further growth in pork exports will be sought, as well as India, USA and Canada, China and the Gulf.  

It sets out new ways to tap into these markets, including targeting:

  • An extra £185 million in exports to Japan through demand for classic British products like tea, jam and biscuits and new opportunities for British beef
  • An additional £293m of exports to Australia and New Zealand
  • A £215 million export boost in Mexico and Latin America 

The plan, developed by Defra and the Department for International Trade following consultation with industry groups, trade associations and food and drink companies, can be seen here.

Mrs Leadsom said: “With over £10 billion worth of food and drink sold overseas in the last seven months and exports up almost six per cent compared to 2015, there is no doubt we are open for business and ready to trade."

Speaking at a dinner in Paris organised by AHDB on Monday night, Mrs Leadsom said the SIAL event confirmed how the British brand was perceived globally, including high standards of animal welfare and food safety.

“We are quite rightly seen as a land of quality, reliability and transparency and that is something to be proud of and it is certainly something that as we leave the EU we are keen to do more of,” she told guests.

Promising to ‘bang the drum’ for British food exports, she outlined how the UK continue to do business with ‘close friends’ like France post-Brexit but also to negotiate new trade agreements with the rest of the world. “We want to be a positive and powerful force for free trade in the rest of the world,” she said.

No downsides

Earlier at the event, Mr Garnier highlighted the strength of the UK pig industry’s position on global markets, as highlighted by the large growth in exports to China.

“There are absolutely no short-term downsides to the present market situation for UK pig producers.

“At an exchange rate of €1.44 it was very, very difficult to export meat while at €1.10 it’s a completely different story,” Mr Garnier said, adding that the exchange was equally helping UK producers on the domestic market.

“At this stage, therefore, there are no producer negatives in sight, especially with many consumers around the world appreciating the excellent quality of British pork and the high welfare standards of our production industry.”

He urged pig producers to up production insisting the global market could accommodate more UK supplies without price being affected, although he cautioned longer-term 'flexibility' to adapt to changing situations would be necessary.