Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farming: Quality Can Be Passport to More Lamb Exports; in Association with RBS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farming: Quality Can Be Passport to More Lamb Exports; in Association with RBS

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Wood

SHEEP farming leaders say the industry needs to plan to make the most of growing export opportunities.

The English Beef and Lamb Executive has called on farmers to be prepared for export after the disaster of FMD last autumn.

With more than 30% of annual UK lamb meat production typically exported, overseas customers are second only to domestic retail chains in their importance to the industry.

And the greater flexibility of export markets to absorb extra lamb makes them particularly significant during the autumn peak of supplies, when they can account for up to 40% of national production, helping to underpin farmgate prices.

Eblex economic and policy adviser Michal Kolesnikow said: "Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that FMD restrictions, which enabled just 16% of UK-produced lamb to be exported during the peak lamb season from August to November last year, coincided with the most disappointing market prices for many years."

In the absence of more disease problems, lamb exports are expected to recover from 70,000 tonnes in 2007 to 78,000 tonnes this year, helped by sterling's relative weakness and falling production in most other EU countries. Indeed, increased export demand is almost certainly playing a significant part in the recent marked upturn in lamb prices.

Mr Kolesnikow said: "To ensure these opportunities are fully realised over the peak supply season will require concerted efforts from all sides of the industry - especially so in the face of growing competition from chilled New Zealand imports and falling lamb consumption in the UK's single most important export market, France."

To boost consumption of lamb in the French market, which has declined by 27% in volume since 2001, Eblex together with Interbev (France) and Bord Bia (Irish Republic) have launched a three-year campaign on the theme Agneau Presto (Quick Lamb).

At the same time, initiatives are being undertaken by Eblex to develop new markets in Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Far East, promoting the quality, meat percentage and availability of British lamb. And "fifth quarter" markets for offal are also being extended in European and Asian countries. …

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