Red meat products from the UK will take centre stage in China this month at one of Asia’s leading food and drink trade shows.
Beef and pork products will be showcased at FHC China, where more than 2,500 exhibitors from around the world will gather at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.
The three-day event has been the leading trade show for international companies looking to expand their business into the Chinese market, which AHDB says is continuously evolving as both the country’s economy and its middle-class consumer base grows.
Due to international travel restrictions as a result of Covid-19, AHDB’s stand will be hosted by China-based representative Holly Chen, who provides support across the AHDB sectors in the local marketplace in a partnership with the China Britain Business Council (CBBC).
“With the expertise of our locally engaged team in China, AHDB is well equipped to continue flying the flag for the UK as a source of high quality, safe and sustainable red meat…”
Chen will also be joined at the event, which starts on the 10th November, by a number of existing UK exporters who have teams locally in China.
AHDB’s head of Asia Pacific, Jonathan Eckley, said: “China continues to be a crucial market for our red meat and dairy exports and it is imperative that we have a presence at the major shows across Asia, even when our UK-based teams are unable to travel.
“With the expertise of our locally engaged team in China, AHDB is well equipped to continue flying the flag for the UK as a source of high quality, safe and sustainable red meat and dairy products, despite the ongoing challenges we face as a result of the pandemic.”
AHDB will be joined by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) representatives. The joint presence is financed by the Ring-fenced Fund (RFF), a £3.3 million levy fund, collected by AHDB and used jointly with QMS and HCC to support the red meat sector.
The red meat market has fared well during the Covid-19 pandemic with an increase in grocery spending offsetting losses to the hospitality and foodservice sectors, according to new market research from AHDB.
Market analysts discussed the impact of the pandemic on these sectors in a series of webinars which revealed that the virus has led to a major shift in consumer buying and consumption behaviours, leading to changes in how people cook and feed their families.
Over the last six months, pork, beef and lamb have seen a significant uplift in retail sales. For lamb, takeaway and delivery gains have also bolstered overall volumes, compensating for eating-out losses.
In retail, beef and pork grew in line with the market, with beef up 12% and pork rising 11%. Lamb has seen smaller growth at 0.4%, however, this covers a lockdown Easter and prior to Covid-19, volumes were down 6%.
“We predict the eating out market will not recover any time soon, especially in light of the new restrictions announced at the weekend, but the retail and takeaway markets will continue to grow.”
AHDB senior retail insight manager, Kim Malley, said: “To say that this year has been a challenge would be an understatement, but we have seen that meat, dairy and potatoes have made an incredible response to the shift in consumer demand.
“While eating-out has been severely affected by the pandemic and led to restaurants and cafes closing overnight, the retail spend on red meat, potatoes and dairy has been strong enough to offset many of the losses.”
These findings were revealed during AHDB’s first series of Consumer Insight webinars which looked at the changing food markets in the UK. The Consumer Insight webinars will continue on the 10th, 11th and 12th November and will look at some of the industry reputational issues impacting consumer demand, such as buying British, the environment, health and animal welfare.
Kim Malley added: “Our webinars not only provided an overview on volume performance, it also highlighted the many opportunities that exist to help increase market share for all sectors.
“We predict the eating out market will not recover any time soon, especially in light of the new restrictions announced at the weekend, but the retail and takeaway markets will continue to grow. Therefore, it is vital that we make the most of these channels to grow volumes of all our sectors.”
Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS)
Norman Bagley, head of policy for AIMS, said: “One of the main issues surrounding the Agriculture Bill is the debate on standards and specifically US chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef. The NFU and others have been banging the drum on this for many months now. It seems to have become a somewhat binary argument and perhaps misses some salient points.
“While many are concerned that this vote from MPs will open the UK up to imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-beef, it must be said that these products are already banned in the UK by law so would need a change in legislation for them to be permitted market access. Highly unlikely or more like impossible this would get through Parliament, meaning they will stay banned.
“So what happens to our prices if US hormone free beef comes to UK? This might surprise but there are some interesting statistics on US grass fed beef (hormone-free) from the US vs UK wholesale prices at the end of September 2020 which showed that US chuck beef is approximately £4.37lb, whereas UK chuck beef is £2.05lb. Similarly, US sirloin is £11.04lb and UK sirloin is £6.14lb. In other words substantially more expensive than UK product. Hardly a threat to UK beef prices.”
British Meat Processors Association
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), commented: “When it comes to standards and safeguards in food production, we are lucky to live in a part of the world that has some of the highest; and the British public are very clear they want that to continue. It is the responsibility of the powers-that-be to ensure there is adequate scrutiny of future trade deals so that the wishes and interests of the public are represented, and our high food standards are maintained.
“This should be achieved in the most transparent way possible and should involve rigorous and open parliamentary debate. This goes far deeper than protecting our home-based agricultural production it is about everyone’s confidence in the food we are eating.”
British Poultry Council
British Poultry Council (BPC) chief executive, Richard Griffiths, added: “With the UK beginning a new chapter outside the European Union, it is more important than ever to maintain UK’s animal welfare and food safety standards and protect them from dilution in trade deals and ensure nation’s access to affordable British food.
“The Government has repeatedly stated the UK will not compromise on our high standards of animal welfare, food production and environmental protection in trade negotiations, and we are asking them to live up to that commitment.
“If we lose control of the food that enters our markets, we risk diluting our own standards and compromise our future trading relationship with the EU and place barriers between us and our biggest and closest trading partner."
“Dilution of food standards will not only penalise British producers who have worked hard to achieve these standards, but also create a two-tier food system in which only the affluent will be able to afford to eat British food grown to British standards.
“Brexit must be used as an opportunity to re-focus our attention on British food values, to state boldly that prioritising high standard, affordable and sustainable British produce, for all, is at the top of our agenda. We want the Government to adopt policies that allow us to drive productivity, create good jobs and strengthen our food security in a thriving, independent UK post-Brexit.”
National Sheep Association
National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive, Phil Stocker, was equally pragmatic: “This amendment provided opportunity to uphold and protect our animal welfare standards, some of the highest in the world. With this being rejected by MPs there is now the very real risk, despite Government’s assurances, that the UK’s standards that our nation’s farmers are proud to work to, could be undermined by lower standard imports.
“The Government may have already given a verbal commitment to farmers and consumers that the current high UK standards will not be threatened by imported goods, but even if this commitment is upheld it comes from the current Government only and therefore is for the present Parliamentary term, four years down the line there is a risk this commitment could be lost and the UK farming sector could be left to fight this battle again.
“Any suggestion by the Government that importing just ‘relatively small quantities of lower standard products’ is worth it in order to safeguard other trade flies in the face of the UK’s stated aim to see animal welfare standards increase across the world. We simply will not achieve this if we allow our markets to support standards, we wouldn’t find acceptable here.
“We sincerely hope the British public will get behind the country’s farmers more than ever now in supporting their hard work producing the highest quality, good value farm produce whilst caring for their livestock and upholding animal welfare standards at all times. As we leave the EU and further trade deals are secured it will be more important than ever to support UK agriculture and buy British to be assured of food traceability and quality.”
National Farmers Union
As reported previously by Meat Management, President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Minette Batters, and NFU Scotland president, Andrew McCornick, have also criticised the decision, with Batters adding that the future of British food and farming is at stake.