British meat exporters eye Japanese market


By Kathryn Wortley, GlobalMeatNews



Last week, British beef and lamb producers were eyeing the Japanese market following the lifting of a 23-year import ban in January 2019, and with a presence at Japan’s Foodex, Asia’s largest food and drink exhibition.


Producers from across the UK met Japanese importers, distributors, buyers and consumers at the Makuhari Messe conference centre, near Tokyo, on 5-8 March. There, they showcased meats that had been banned in Japan following the UK’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in 1996.


Steaks and chops, which were part of the first shipment of British beef and lamb to enter Japan since the ban was lifted, were cooked and served to visitors. The UK ambassador​ for Quality Standard Mark (QSM) Beef​ and Lamb​, executive chef Chris Wheeler, said this was vital to raising awareness of the texture and flavour unique to British meats.


Japanese buyers expressed interest in premium cuts of beef, such as rib eye, sirloin and fillet, as well as premium lamb. This prompted optimism among British producers about the market, which is expected to be worth £127 million (US$165m) to UK exporters within the next five years according to the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.


The initial focus for producers is likely to be the mid- and high-end markets, said Susan Stewart, senior export manager at the UK’s Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). However, buyers at the show were also looking for tongue, which is a popular product in Japan. As tongue is rarely eaten in the UK and often becomes a waste product, Stewart noted that, through tongue exports, British producers had “an opportunity to add value to the industry”.​


Rhys Llywelyn, market development manager of Hybu Cig Cymru - ​Meat Promotion Wales, agreed...