Rory calls on government to promote exports as UK becomes net exporter of lamb for first time in 50 years
The UK has become a net exporter of lamb for the first time in at least 50 years, according to new figures published by EBLEX*.
Figures show that in 2011 sheep meat exports from the UK rose by 11 on the year, totalling 98,500 tonnes product weight. During the same period, UK sheep meat imports fell 13 per cent to 88,000 tonnes product weight.
The rise in exports was driven by strong demand on the European continent. Exports to France accounted for 60 per cent with an increase of 3.1 per cent. Shipments to Germany and Ireland both increased by around two thirds year-on-year. Exports to non-EU markets for the period were up 41 per cent year-on-year at 5,800 tonnes.
“The growth in our exports is fantastic news for Cumbria’s sheep industry and a testament to the hard work of our farmers,” Rory said. ” The UK is now the largest sheep-meat producer in the EU and third in terms of global trade behind only Australia and New Zealand.
“But we should be challenging the Antipodes for top spot.
“Non-EU exports still only represent 5 to 6 per cent of our total exports, and we’re shut out of the world’s major markets. We’re exporting sheep to the Congo, but not America, China or the Middle East, where demand is almost unlimited.
“The government – and especially our diplomats – need to make the opening of these huge growth markets an absolute priority. I want to see UK ambassadors pushing British farm exports at the highest levels around the world, and dedicated agriculture secretaries posted to our most important target markets.
“Cumbria has one of the world’s oldest and greatest sheep industries. We should be shipping our produce to the four corners of the globe, improving the UK’s trade balance and dramatically adding to the bottom line of our farms.”
*EBLEX is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England, and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).