AHDB said there was an opportunity for UK exporters to capitalise on 330m consumers
Farmers need to be aware of the potential impact of a UK/US trade deal but a deal was unlikely to dramatically change trade patterns over the short-term and would offer opportunities for British producers.
That was the conclusion in AHDB’s latest Horizon report looking at a UK/US Free Trade Agreement and its impact on UK agriculture.
Tom Forshaw, AHDB senior analyst and lead author, said AHDB had tried to look beyond the headlines.
He said the nature of trade deals meant it took a while for businesses to actually capitalise on them and the industry was unlikely to see US products immediately flood the market.
He said: “With the change in trade policy, the UK is now much more outward-facing. We cannot afford to be complacent. Over 10-15 years there is likely to be more competition in the domestic marketplace.”
He added this would also be impacted by trade deals with New Zealand and Australia.
Beef was the product which has hit UK headlines, but Mr Forshaw said the report had taken the UK Government’s assurances it would uphold existing food standards at face value.
He said: “Although US beef is quite competitive if you look purely at cost of production, that is only one element of how those economics play out in trade.”
Looking at where the US exported beef, it was to markets such as Japan and South Korea.
They were achieving prices in excess of the price the UK paid for Irish beef and the global average and sending the high end cuts the US wanted to export, but the UK would probably not import.
Mr Forshaw said: “That is not to say the US would not target more high value, niche foodservice, where it could play on that origin in the UK.”
For UK farming, Mr Forshaw highlighted opportunities for the beef industry after the market was opened up last year, particularly for manufacturing beef.
The dairy industry was another sector with opportunities, with major growth in the popularity of farmhouse cheeses.
He said: “We are pretty well placed to capitalise on that. With 330 million consumers, when you are talking about niche products, that can be quite significant to the UK.”
For the full report visit: ahdb.org.uk/uk-us-free-trade-agreement-impact-on-uk-agriculture