First shipment of UK beef to US in 24 years arrives

The beef deal is estimated to be worth £66 million over the next five years
The beef deal is estimated to be worth £66 million over the next five years

The first shipment of British beef to the US in over two decades has arrived as the sector looks to capitalise the relatively untapped American market.

The first shipment of UK beef departed Northern Ireland on 30 September, in a deal estimated to be worth £66m over the next five years.

It represents the first shipment of exports of British beef to the US in 24 years, and is the first beef to be exported since market access was granted back in March.

This first volumes included a select number of cuts, including sirloin cannon and topside mini beef joints.

These will be showcased at AHDB's ‘British Roast beef’ launch this week, aimed at influencers and buyers from the states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Felicity Rusk, AHDB livestock analyst, said a simple average of the estimated £66 million over a five-year period would equate to £13.2 million/year.

"If realised, this would rank US market 8th in relation to the UK’s other export markets, roughly in-line with Belgium," she explained.

"From a UK perspective, the United States has been a relatively untapped market in terms of food exports.

"The UK has previously only had market access for pork and dairy products. The market access gained for beef products provides a valuable opportunity for British beef."

As highlighted in the AHDB's US country focus report, per capita meat consumption in the US is three times the global average.

Its research, in conjunction with ICM in 2017, highlighted that value for money was at the forefront for most Americans when purchasing meat.

However, consumers still expected high quality regardless of price point. "Our research also identified a limited awareness of British produce among American consumers," Ms Rusk said.

Figures show last year was one of the best years on record for UK red meat exports - rocketing to more than £1.5 billion.