UK pork sector increases presence in Asia Pacific to reap export deals

The Far East holds export hopes for the British pork sector, with China in particular holding great potential
The Far East holds export hopes for the British pork sector, with China in particular holding great potential

The Asia-Pacific region continues to offer opportunities for the UK pork sector as an increased presence builds up to reap the rewards of overseas trade.

Since the UK pork sector gained access in 2012, China has become the main market in the region for pork exports.

Demand was particularly strong in 2016, with UK exports valued at £43.3 million and offal exports worth a further £31.4 million, according to AHDB figures.

Despite the market being more challenging last year, UK pork exports increased by one per cent on the previous year’s record shipments.

However, the popularity of pork is not only evident in China when looking at UK export data. The Philippines has become an important market, with UK exports increasing by 40 per cent in 2017.

A UK pork delegation to Manila earlier this year shows that appetite for UK pig meat and offal products remains strong – latest data shows shipments were up 50 per cent year-on-year.

Exports of pork to South Korea and Japan also started the year well, increasing by 26 per cent and 61 per cent respectively.

Asian middle class

Despite increased presence and popularity in the Far East, the AHDB is calling on the pork industry to work hard to remain at the top of the list for importers as competition grows.

Jonathan Eckley, AHDB Export’s new Head of Asia Pacific is looking to build on the strong figures and will be attending numerous trade missions in the Far East this year.

His recent appointment signals the commitment by industry to increase exports from the UK by building on existing markets and developing new opportunities in the Far East.

He said: “The Asia-Pacific region as a whole continues to present many future opportunities for UK exporters and we must do all that we can to ensure our products benefit from a growth in the market.

“The Asian middle class is projected to expand rapidly over the coming years, with two thirds of the world’s middle class living in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030, according to the OECD. An increase in wealth is expected to trigger a rise in meat consumption in that region and it’s an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.”

Mr Eckle said increasing exports of UK pork to the Far East is not without its challenges, as continued competition from other countries puts pressure.

Awareness of British

AHDB’s Chief Communications and Market Development Officer Christine Watts said the increased presence in the Far East represents a significant investment by AHDB to build awareness of British products overseas and grow our exports.

“AHDB is committed to working with farmers, growers and industry to build new and ambitious export opportunities,” she added.

“We now have a dedicated team in the Asia-Pacific region to help develop our existing work, identify new opportunities and build on the strong relationships we have already in this all-important market.

“This investment also allows us to build our knowledge with a series of new research being undertaken this year to provide us and exporters with real consumer insight into these fast growing markets.”

Upcoming trade shows, seen as important for pork exports to showcase products to influential buyers, include SIAL China in Shanghai, the 16th annual China International Meat Industry Exhibition in Hong Kong and FHC Shanghai later in the year.

Jonathan Eckley said the shows build important relationships with the ultimate goal of increasing exports to the growing Asian market.

“With the uncertainty surrounding the future of UK and EU trade relations in light of Brexit, it is crucial that we look to exploit the opportunities presented in the Far East and work to build on the already impressive export figures from the past few years,” he said.