Meat exports

Export of British livestock products amounts to over half a million tonnes each year, worth about £1.34 billion.

With market access in over 50 countries for our sheep meatbeef and pig meat, it is imperative to keep finding more trade markets to add value to the supply chain and maximise returns. Maintaining existing markets is important too, to strengthen relationships and react to changes in the market place.

Current market priorities for export agreement include Taiwan (sheep meat), China (sheep meat), Vietnam (beef, sheep meat and pork) and the USA (lamb). Recent successes include approval of new pork sites and trotters by China, the lifting of the ban on UK beef export to China, approval of UK pork export to Taiwan and approval from Japan for beef and lamb export, as well as our previously agreed pork access.

The export team participates in more than 70 shows and events each year, including inward and outward missions. It promotes the products we have to offer – from the premium cuts, to those with very low residual value and demand in the UK, such as pig trotters and livers. Exporting provides an opportunity to utilise the whole carcase by selling those products that do not have a strong domestic market value, but which are highly valued overseas.


Export update: Market access measures due to Covid-19

Recorded in December 2020, this webinar provides meat exporters in the UK with the opportunity to learn about new ways of working as a result of Covid-19. 

Export update: EU exit and the red meat trade – a view from Europe

Recorded in November 2020, this webinar focuses on the possible changes ahead in the way red meat exporters trade with the EU. You will also hear from key European competitors about how EU exit is affecting their domestic industries and what they are doing to prepare.

Download the webinar slides

Export update: The impact of COVID-19 on international markets

Recorded in June 2020, this one-hour webinar provides valuable insight into the global challenges and opportunities for UK meat exports as well as an in-depth look at key markets in Asia.

Download the webinar slides

Export update: View from North America

Recorded in July 2020, the second of a series of AHDB's export webinars and replacing AHDB’s annual export conference Global Britain that was held in October last year. The webinar looks at the opportunities for trade in North America.

Download the webinar slides

Export update: Opportunities for UK lamb in the Middle East

Recorded in September 2020, this hour-long webinar covers the current market conditions in the Middle East, the challenges and opportunities faced by exporters, and how UK sheep meat is perceived in this key target market.

Download the webinar slides


The UK produces about 900,000 tonnes of beef and veal per year, with 145,000 tonnes exported.

With highly established and recognised quality and food safety assurance schemes, UK beef is regarded as some of the best in the world.

The EU is largest beef export market (fresh, frozen, offal and processed).

Of the 145,398 tonnes exported, about 18% (26,577 tonnes) was exported to non-EU markets (based on January to November 2022 HMRC trade data).

With competition from lower cost producers in the Southern Hemisphere, the UK continues to enjoy strong trade relations with big importers, such as the Netherlands, which imports about 22,000 tonnes annually (with a value of about £94m).

China is another key market with great potential, and here is a report which looks at the opportunities for the UK beef industry.

Top importers include: Ireland, Netherlands, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Belgium, Philippines, Germany, Spain, China


Data sources: HMRC and Defra


The UK is the world's sixth largest producer of lamb, after China, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and Algeria, and the third largest exporter of sheep meat.

With about 275,000–300,000 tonnes of lamb and mutton produced annually, the UK exports about 80,000 tonnes of sheep meat each year (valued at about £500m).

With strong competition from the Southern Hemisphere and South America, the UK still has strong trade relations with France. In 2022, France imported 36,538 tonnes of sheep meat worth £237.2m.

Top 10 importers: France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Austria, Ghana

Data sources: HMRC and Defra


Market access for pork is greater than it is for beef and sheep meat.

In recent years, the UK has successfully increased the volume of red meat and offal it has exported. We have been active in supporting the opening of new markets.

Much of this growth has come after market access to China was granted in 2011.

In 2022, the UK exported 372,597 tonnes of pig meat products, including 126,724 tonnes exported to China.

Korea offers great opportunities for the UK pork sector, especially since UK signed a continuity trade agreement with Korea, allowing businesses to keep trading freely after Brexit. Here is a detailed report on this market

Mexico is among the world’s 15 largest economies and is the second largest economy in Latin America. In 2021, the Mexican market opened for British pork for the first time, which means a potential boost of £50m over the first five years of trade. Find out about the Mexican economy and opportunities for pork exports.

Top 10 importers: China, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, USA, Belgium, Philippines, France

Data sources: HMRC and Defra

Monthly UK imports and exports of pig meat products

International contacts

We have agents based in countries around the world, who coordinate and lead our in country export activity based on their specific local knowledge and networks.  

EU Lucille Brillaud
MENA and SSA Awal Fuseini
Italy and Switzerland Jeff Martin
Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary Marek Schejbal
Germany, Austria & Switzerland Tim Schäfer
Netherlands & Scandinavia John Schilder
Portugal and Africa Luis Garcia
Belgium & Luxemburg Pascale Audergon

Americas Susana Morris
Asia Pacific

Jonathan Eckley

Susan Stewart

Holly Chen

Export guides

These guides aim to help businesses in the export market to make the most of Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb. Here you will find cutting guides and specification manuals in several languages.