Fourth UK beef processing site gains access to US market

A fourth processing site in the UK has won approval to export its beef to the US – marking a major leap forward for the business and for the red meat sector as a whole.

Foyle Food Group in Gloucester is now listed on the official ‘USDA Approved’ list, which means commercial exports of beef can commence with immediate effect.

It comes after extensive work by the company with support from AHDB, Defra, the Food Standards Agency and the UK Export Certification Partnership.

The UK was granted access to ship beef to the all-important US market late last year – with processors WD Meats, Keepak and a second Foyle site gaining approval.

The four beef processing sites will compliment the growing pork exports to the US – which has seen shipments increase in value by 76 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 to £3.8 million compared to the same period last year.

The US market is currently experiencing price rises for beef and an increased demand for premium products – driven by changing purchasing behaviour across all income groups.

AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “Like their UK counterparts, US consumers are seeking quality meat to recreate the restaurant experience at home, resulting in a switch to premium products.

“I consider our products to fill this desire in the US, as they are high value with added credentials around our native breeds and farming methods.”

Recent data has shown the volume of premium beef products sold in retail has increased by 55 per cent by dollar value, some 52 per cent compared to ‘standard’ products that increased by 11 per cent in volume. Sales of fillet steak have also increased 34 per cent over the same period.

Dr Hadley added: “AHDB recognises the opportunity that North America offers and has increased in-country resources and activity to maximise the potential for our levy payers. Since access was granted, the UK has exported over £3 million of beef, adding value across the supply chain.”

John Wilkes, AHDB’s representative in Washington DC, said: “US consumers no longer view higher retail prices negatively for a premium meat for home consumption as opposed to the much higher costs of a premium experience in a restaurant.

“Consumers are prepared to increase spend to have a meal experience which in turn has led to a decrease in demand for “cheap meat”. This augers well for UK beef and pork products, often sold at a premium with added claims such as high welfare and high production standards.”

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