Asia was key to the success, which saw the total value of red meat exports rise by 13% year-on-year, with more than 661,000 tonnes (t) of pork, lamb and beef shipped around the world.
While the lion’s share was still exported to Europe, strong growth was recorded for all three meats to non-EU countries.
The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said the strong figures came in a year where there were some good access wins for red meat, including Japan for both beef and lamb. It said China was also moving closer to the first shipments of UK beef in over 20 years. There were also inward inspection visits from countries including Mexico in February of this year and the USA in the summer of 2019.
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said: “This year has been phenomenal. As well as a record year in terms of both volume and value, we have also seen some incredible market access wins, which has helped make 2019 one of the best years for our red meat exports.
“This tremendous success is underpinned by AHDB’s commitment to target and grow key markets, not only through the tremendous efforts of our export team, but also through a network of 13 agents and representatives across Europe, as well as staff in the US, China and Hong Kong.”
The figures showed that 183,000t of beef and offal were exported in 2019, worth £532m – up 7.5%. Sheep meat and offal shipments rose 12.5% to 99,000t, with a value of £402m.
AHDB said that pig meat led the charge with total export volumes reaching 378,000t, worth £609m, a rise of 24% compared to 2018. Demand from China helped boost the figures, with shipments of pig meat, including offal, up 61% to 131,000t, it said.
AHDB head of Asia-Pacific Jonathan Eckley said: “The Asian market was key to the success of 2019, with demand for imported pork continuing across China in light of the ongoing ASF outbreak.
“We have also seen great success for our pork exports to Taiwan, with £6.8m-worth of pig meat shipped in our first full year of trading, following the granting of market access in 2018.”