English red meat levy bodies will continue to open as many new export markets as possible to reduce UK agriculture’s exposure to the euro.
Meat exports have struggled over the past year as a strong pound against the euro has made UK produce less competitive on the continent.
Speaking at Anuga retail food fair in Germany last week, chiefs at AHDB Beef and Lamb, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) told Farmers Guardian new markets remained a key strategy in improving returns to the UK farm gate.
Lauren Vernet, QMS head of marketing said: “We are looking to get less dependent on the EU exchange rate although the pound is strong all over the world.”
He said QMS was currently looking at Hong Kong, Canada and South Africa as well as some markets within Europe which did not use the euro.
Mr Vernet said France and Italy were now ’mature’ markets and the body would review its position in these over the coming years, looking more at markets outside Europe.
“The industry is slowly moving from Eurozone areas to non-Eurozone areas," he said.
QMS increased the value of exports 4.7 per cent in the past year but Mr Vernet suggested the country would have fared much better in foreign markets without a strong pound.
AHDB Beef and Lamb underlined many of these comments. The body claimed exports had seen a difficult year due to the pound-euro rate.
Nick Allen, AHDB head of market development for AHDB added: “The dollar and the euro operate differently. That is why we are seeking out markets in Hong Kong and Africa at the moment.
"Everybody talks about volatility and that is one of the things which levels it out. If we can have the dollar in the equation it helps.”
The claims came as AHDB also revealed worries Defra budget cuts may affect the UK’s ability to open as many new export destinations as it would like for red meat.
Last Monday saw a delegation of Chinese beef industry chiefs visit AHDB’s stand to discuss the potential for further imports to the country.