Government support for 'Great British Beef Week' highlights potential for British meat exports

Fri 30 Apr 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Prime minister Boris Johnson and international trade secretary Liz Truss have both visited beef farms this week to endorse Great British Beef Week (GBBW) and explore how the government and farmers can make the most of export opportunities.

The PM visited Stuart and Leanne Fairfax’s livestock farm in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, Meat Management reported.

National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters, who joined the PM, welcomed the government’s current Open Doors campaign to boost farming exports.

'Global standard'

“We have the credentials to be world leaders in sustainable red meat production – to set the global standard for high welfare, climate-friendly beef and help build the British food brand, which is founded on these values, across the world,” she said.

This year’s GBBW is focused on sustainability, reported Farming UK, led by Ladies in Beef, a group of more than 150 female beef farmers from across the UK.

Figures show that UK beef production boasts a carbon footprint of just less than half the global average. The industry is aiming to be net zero by 2040.

Sustainable production

“This year we wanted to demonstrate how the beef sector is progressive and [show] its environmental sustainability credentials,” said the group’s founder Jilly Greed.

Liz Truss visited Yorkshire beef farmers Michael and Margaret Atkinson this week, the Cattle Site reported.

Their Mowbray Park Farm has 250 grass-fed cattle and exports semen and embryos to countries across the world.

“We produce a premium product and it was great to see that recognised today. We know there is appetite across the world for British beef and we will need to make the most of this if we are to continue to get the best returns for our product from the market,” said Michael Atkinson.

‘No’ to cheap agri-food imports

Minette Batters, who also joined this visit, said it was important to grow food exports around the world and find new markets. However, she said: “the British brand must not be undermined by trade deals that allow imports of agri-food products that fail to meet our own high standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.”

Farmers are worried that future trade deals, such as with the US and the Australian deal outlined last week, will undermine UK producers, opening them up to cheaper imports.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that feed grain price increases are impacting other agricultural markets as farmers are buying up crops including soya and wheat to feed cattle and chickens.

With grain prices at an eight-year high, the cost of feeding animals is rising and higher meat prices could be coming for consumers.