Meat exports

Export of red meat from the UK amounts to over half a million tonnes each year, worth about £1.7 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.

UK exports in 2023 (Source: HMRC):

  • Red meat exports, including offal, achieved a similar level in value to the record year of 2022, underpinned by the performance of exports of sheep meat, particularly to the EU
  • Total value of red meat shipments to the EU during the period was up 2% on the year, at £1.3 billion, while volumes fell by 12% on the year

Top importers in 2023 include: France, China, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.

Current market priorities for export agreement include widening the scope of market access to Mexico's pork market, as well as Caribbean markets (beef, sheep and pork). Recent successes include UK pork market access to Vietnam, and the approval of UK lamb export to Taiwan.

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.


CPTPP Trade Modelling Briefing

Recorded in February 2024, this webinar provides a deep dive of our analysis of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.


The UK produced about 900,600 tonnes of beef and veal in 2023, with about 134,000 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 the largest beef export market (fresh, frozen, offal and processed).

Of the 133,903 tonnes exported, about 19% (25,431 tonnes) was exported to non-EU markets (based on January to December 2023 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. This 2020 report looks at the opportunities for the UK beef industry in China.

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 global competition, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere, the UK maintains a strong trading relationship with France. In 2023 France imported 45,000 tonnes of sheep worth £292 million.

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 2023 the UK exported 298,312 tonnes of pig meat products, including 112,219 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
Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary Marek Schejbal
Germany, Austria and Switzerland Tim Schäfer
Netherlands and Scandinavia John Schilder
Portugal and Africa Luis Garcia
Belgium and Luxemburg Carole Daems
Americas Susana Morris
Asia Pacific

Jonathan Eckley

Susan Stewart

Holly Chen

Export meat cutting guides

These guides aim to help businesses in the export market to make the most of quality beef, lamb and pork from Britain. Here you will find cutting guides and specification manuals in English, Chinese, French, Spanish and other languages.

Useful links

Key market information, including imports and exports:

Our domestic policy and international trade pages

Back to Exports hubpage