Japanese importers visit UK to enhance red meat opportunities

Analysis by the AHDB has identified opportunities for UK pork, beef and lamb in Japan as a high-value economy and net importer
Analysis by the AHDB has identified opportunities for UK pork, beef and lamb in Japan as a high-value economy and net importer

Japanese importers and buyers have visited the UK to explore further opportunities to enhance trade in beef, lamb and pork.

This week, red meat exporters from the UK met with key buyers from Japan to explore trade opportunities.

Five Japanese importers joined the AHDB on a five-day mission to learn about sustainable beef, lamb and pork production.

The mission – the first inward mission from Asia since the pandemic – included a number of farm visits in the north of England and a tour of an abattoir and meat processing site.

The trip culminated on 25 May with a networking dinner at Butchers' Hall in London, where the delegation met leading beef, lamb and pork exporters from the UK and explored new business opportunities.

Last year, UK red meat exports hit record levels, with a value of £1.7 billion.

This included beef exports to Japan, which saw an increase in value of 68% to £16.3m.

Japan has been identified as a key target market for the UK’s red meat sector, with the country being one of the world’s largest beef importers.

Japan opened its doors to imports of UK beef in January 2019 following its 1996 bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) ban.

A series of visits and negotiations between UK and Japanese officials culminated in an inspection of beef production systems in 2018 – hosted by Defra and the wider industry.

Jonathan Eckley, AHDB head of international trade development, said Japan was an important and growing market for British red meat exporters.

"We want to maximise the opportunities that are presented there, with a particular interest from Japanese consumers in high-welfare and environmentally sustainable food production, which the UK is in a strong position to fulfil.

“The visit provided an ideal platform for us to showcase our sustainable, high production standards throughout the supply chain, as well as organising key meetings between Japanese buyers and UK exporters to potentially capitalise on opportunities in this valuable market.

“Export development is one of AHDB’s key strategic objectives, working collaboratively with industry and the government, to cultivate further opportunities for our red meat and dairy sectors."

Opportunities in Japan and other markets will be in the spotlight on 22 June at the AHDB Export Conference in London.