Exciting opportunity for sheep meat exports to non-traditional EU markets

Non-traditional EU markets have been pinpointed as key to developing UK sheep meat exports by AHDB Beef and Lamb.

Volume shipments to Poland, Norway, Austria, Denmark and Sweden have more than doubled since 2010 and, while these markets still only represent three per cent of UK exports to member states, AHDB Beef and Lamb has identified them as important for future growth.

Last year, volumes to these destinations increased by 10 per cent on the year to 3,200 tonnes, including a five-fold increase in volumes to Poland. The UK also holds nearly 20 per cent of the Polish market and is the second largest supplier.

To help capitalise on the trend, AHDB Beef and Lamb recently organised a reception in Warsaw, attended by the Polish media and importers, to help put Quality Standard Mark lamb in the spotlight. It included a presentation on UK production and a cookery demonstration and tasting.

Jean-Pierre Garnier, export manager AHDB Beef and Lamb, said: “Our traditional European export markets for sheep meat – France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy Spain and Portugal – still account for 97 per cent of our exports to member states. However, with UK production increasing and these markets not showing growth in recent years, it’s imperative for us to look for opportunities in new markets and our plans are to increase these to 10 per cent of total exports of lamb.

“Poland has a tradition of lamb consumption and there has been more consumer interest in lamb over the last 18 months, which is something the UK sheep meat sector can capitalise on.

“With a population of around 40 million people, coupled with fast-rising incomes and this increasing consumer interest, the potential for sheep meat exports to Poland is very encouraging. Importantly, Poland, Sweden and Denmark are interested in importing cuts, rather than whole carcases, which adds value to the carcase and benefits the whole UK supply chain.

“Events like the one we held in Warsaw play a key role in raising the profile of what we have to offer the market. While we acknowledge these countries don’t have a tradition of consuming large volumes of sheep meat, interest in sheep meat is heading in the right direction and the UK is in a strong position to capitalise on this. It will take some time to develop, but the long term prospects are very exciting, particularly for premium products.”

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