Prospects for UK agri-food exports: South America, Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic

Currently, the UK has export health certificates to export red meat to only two countries in the region, which includes South America and CAPDR (Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic). Strong competition from the USA, Brazil and Argentina adds to the challenges the UK faces in this market, but there is potential ahead, particularly for offal.

Summary of findings

The Dominican Republic and Chile have good prospects for pork exports, and access has been secured for both of these countries by AHDB.

However, demand for British pork by the Dominican Republic may not be sustained because it is dependent on reduced domestic supply. Opportunities to export pork to Colombia, and beef to Chile may arise due to increasing demand. Also, there might be opportunities to export pork and lamb to Panama, which has a wealthy population and is home to many American retirees who enjoy these high-end products.

As a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the UK will eventually have tariff-free access for beef exports to Peru, but the UK does not currently have an export health certificate (EHC) in place with Peru to facilitate beef exports. Once this issue is resolved, Peru is another market which has potential for UK beef.

There is good potential for expanding offal exports as UK pork offal exports to the Dominican Republic have grown steadily, once an EHC was granted, and pork offal to Chile is also up and running.

The lack of EHCs to export British red meat to the region is a limiting factor at present, as the UK only has market access to two countries so far. A further hurdle beyond obtaining market access is prohibitive tariff rates in some countries – Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama being prime examples.

The USA dominates the export of beef and pork to most countries in the region, alongside intraregional trade. This has led to consumers within the region preferring the taste of US beef and it is a barrier that would need to be overcome over time. It is a similar story for dairy and given the proximity of the USA to Central and South America, there are challenges despite the EHCs available.

The UK has exported cheese to the Dominican Republic and Chile in recent years and growth in exports to the Dominican Republic in particular have been promising. While exports to Chile have seen a lull in the past few years, Chile is forecast to have a relatively high growth in cheese consumption to 2031, showing further potential for the UK.

British red meat and dairy is also likely to cost more in the retail and food services sector for consumers, processors and suppliers due to the higher transportation costs involved and tariffs imposed on imports.

The current high levels of poultry consumption are set to increase further by 2031 due to the low cost of this meat. This could limit the export ability of higher cost British red meats further, as consumers turn to lower cost proteins in response to inflation and the cost of living.

Where do the opportunities lie?

Image of staff member Isabelle Shohet

Isabelle Shohet

Analyst (Red Meat)

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Continue reading about the South America, Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic market

Economic overview

How much do they consume?

Market access and barriers to trade

Consumer insight

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Prospects for UK agri-food exports hub