Exports of beef, lamb and pork from the UK have surpassed the £500 million mark for the first six months of 2017 – up 18 per cent year-on-year.
There has also been a 21 per cent increase in offal exports, taking the total value of shipments from the three sectors to £582 million.
Statistics from HMRC showed exports to non-EU countries have also risen, with the Asian markets continuing to offer opportunities for beef, lamb and pork.
In the first half of the year, beef exports to countries outside of Europe were up 45 per cent year-on-year to almost 8,000 tonnes. This has resulted in a 62 per cent rise in value to £23.5 million.
Third country pork exports rose by nearly 4 per cent in volume to 41,000 tonnes – more than half of which has gone to China where there has been a 6 per cent rise in exports in the first half of the year, worth £24 million.
Total recorded lamb exports to both European and non-EU countries have performed well for the first half of 2017, with volumes up 18 per cent valued at £178 million.
Levy board AHDB said that while this was a lower proportion, exports of sheep meat to non-EU countries have doubled in 2017 so far.
AHDB’s head of livestock export trade development Jean-Pierre Garnier said: “These latest figures paint a positive picture for the meat export industry. It is very encouraging to see an increase in exports to non-EU countries and a strong progression in value as this is an important area for our meat exports with the challenge of Brexit.
“AHDB recognises the importance of developing balanced international trade that does not rely solely on the EU, but we also cannot underestimate the importance of Europe as two-thirds of our meat exports are still destined for the EU.
“However, we understand the challenges that our meat industry faces and we must look at new exports deals and continue to work towards securing access to third countries.”
Key target markets such as Hong Kong and China have led the growth of exports to non-EU countries this year – with the latest data showing a four-fold increase in chilled beef exports to Hong Kong as well as a 91 per cent rise in chilled lamb.
Non-EU exports were expected to rise even further following the recent announcement of a £200 million trade deal for pork access to China and a £34 million deal to export beef to the Philippines.