Blog: Our Friends Over the Pond

Monday, 6 March 2023

AHDB Senior Export Manager (Americas) Susana Morris examines why the US is so important to UK meat exports, from the Annual Meat Conference in Dallas.

The special relationship between the UK and America continues to be very special for our red meat exporters, with shipments of beef, pork and now lamb making their way stateside, worth more than £35 million to the sectors last year alone.

But why is the US proving such an important and valuable market for UK agriculture? Well, it’s a market that has over 300 million people, and they are among the biggest meat consumers in the world. While the US is also one of the largest producers of meat, it’s the perfect market in which to sell our products as an alternative to domestic products. The UK has one of the most sustainable production systems in the world, using the natural resources of grass and plentiful sunshine and rain to produce highly nutritious red meat. Also, our decreasing antibiotic usage coupled with our strict regulations which prohibit the use of growth hormones, means that our meat appeals to an increasing number of consumers in the US.

It's for this reason that AHDB has made America a key target market for our red meat exports and today, we are in Dallas for the all-important Annual Meat Conference to showcase the high quality and sustainability of our red meat to more than 1,500 visitors as well as to help our beef and lamb exporters network with potential buyers from across the States.

The conference also provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of this growing market and explore what opportunities exist for our businesses back in the UK. As part of this trip, we will also be visiting local retailers in Dallas to see where our products would sit on supermarket shelves, as well as visiting a local beef and sheep ranch to meet with the locals and gain first-hand knowledge about industry trends, demand for red meat and consumer buying behaviours here in the US.

This week-long mission is hugely important as it’s our ambition to build on the incredibly successful year of red meat exports to the US that we enjoyed last year. According to the latest data from HMRC, in 2022 we exported £8.2 million worth of beef and almost £28 million worth of pork, which is absolutely fantastic.

Exporting to the US is not without its challenges, though. Our beef shipments did fall in 2022 due to the beef import quota filling in the first half of the year, with other exporting nations also targeting the market, resulting in a smaller slice of the action for UK exporters. This is a problem that will unfortunately continue this year, with 62 per cent of the quota already filled just a little over two months into the year.

However, AHDB is committed to promoting UK beef in the US in the hope that further opportunities for tariff-free shipments will present themselves in the future.

For our lamb exports, October was a monumental time for the UK, with our first exports in more than two decades finally making their way over to the states. Whilst a historic moment for us and a cause for celebration, it is now that the hard work begins. With lamb being expensive compared to other proteins and other countries already established in this market, the challenge is to sell our products to the high-end food service sector in the hope that its popularity will continue to grow.

So those are the challenges we face and that’s why we are here at the AMC event. Exhibitions like these are fundamental in building connections with importers, raising the profile of our red meat and establishing important links with the US to ensure that our special relationship continues and more red meat from the UK appears on plates across America in the years ahead.

Find out more about AHDB's meat export work

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Image of staff member Susana Morris

Susana Morris

Senior Trade Development Manager – Americas (Livestock)

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