Sales of British lamb soar despite Brexit uncertainty

A Brexit “bounce” has boosted business in an unexpected area: sales of lamb to mainland Europe.

New figures show that exports of British lamb have actually grown despite the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

Exports to Belgium were up by nine per cent last year compared with the previous 12 months, according to new data.

The figures were released at an event in Brussels designed to promote British lamb and beef.

Guest speaker, Remi Fourrier, of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, said the increase illustrated the “ongoing faith and confidence” in lamb from the UK.

This, he added, was despite the continuing uncertainty about the future relationship between the UK and EU, caused by Brexit.

The UK withdrew from the EU on 31 January although it effectively remains a member until the end of the year during which the two sides will try to reach agreement on a future trade deal.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, based in Fontainebleau, France, is a levy board funded by farmers and growers and some other parts of the supply chain.

The event was told that Belgium is currently in the top three in Europe for UK lamb exports.

Fourrier said, “The fact that lamb exports have risen over the period when there was arguably most uncertainty surrounding Brexit does reflect the fact that this (lamb) is still seen as a great British product.

“It is know all over the world for its tenderness and quality which, clearly, still has its own space in Europe.”

He added, “British lamb is always appreciated for its traceability and what you could call its ecological footprint. It has an unmistakable quality label which is associated with the breeding involved and also the respect shown for animal welfare and environmental protection.

“Restaurants and the food sector generally naturally need this sort of reliability in the products they handle.”

He added a word of warning, though, saying that a possible “no deal” at the end of the year between the UK and EU could have potentially damaging impact on the currently health export trade in lamb and, to a slightly lesser extent in beef.

Fourrier told this website, “There are a few possibilities, including a no-deal between the two sides. If that happens, and I certainly hoped it does not,then there could be tariffs of up to 40 per cent on exports of UK lamb to the EU, including here in Belgium

Speaking at the event, at the Armes des Bruxelles restaurant near the Grand Place, “This has to be avoided at all costs as it could place enormous restrictions on lamb and beef exports. I am hoping that common sense will prevail in the ongoing negotiations.”

Several leading retail outlets stock British lamb,including Delhaize, Carrefour, Groupe Mestdagh, Cora, Intermarche, Lidl and Match.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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