Prospects for UK agri-food exports: Asia

Asia holds significant potential for UK exports due to its large population, increasing middle-class wealth, rising meat consumption and consumers’ high regard for food safety and quality.

Summary of findings

Prospects for UK agri-food exports to Asia are among the highest in the world due to the huge market size and its relatively high meat consumption, which will only grow as overall wealth increases.

China is the obvious jewel in the crown of the Asian market, but there are others in the region that have the potential to also be attractive if the UK gets its ducks in a row. While China will remain important, opportunities lie elsewhere, and in this section we look at these in more detail.

Asia provides an eclectic mix. There’s the opportunity of sending premium meat cuts and dairy products to satisfy consumers’ appetites in more advanced economies such as Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. However, there is also strong potential for shipping products perceived as low value in the UK market, such as offal, which will help in carcase balance, minimising waste and maximising value.

AHDB research has shown that quality and food safety are high on the agenda for the Asian consumer when it comes to buying meat and dairy products ‒ and this is a box that the UK can easily tick, given its high food production standards. However, it is important to market these qualities effectively; UK products will tend to be more expensive than domestic ones, so consumers need to know why they are paying extra.

Inevitably, there are challenges associated with the Asian export market. These range from competition for red meat from fish and poultry, competition from top global exporters such as Australia and New Zealand, stringent export requirements, and potential geopolitical disruption. Making inroads is not going to be easy and will need a carefully considered and meticulous strategy ‒ one that maximises positive messaging around what the UK has to offer. However, once we weigh these up, the prize to be gained will merit the effort in getting there.

Where do the opportunities lie?

Image of staff member Amandeep Kaur Purewal

Amandeep Kaur Purewal

Senior Economist

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