First exports of UK beef to the USA in 20 years get underway

Cows at Whittington Lodge Farm

The first shipments of UK beef are to depart for the USA today, the first time in more than 20 years, with further shipments from across the UK expected to commence in the coming weeks.

Following the USA’s longstanding ban on EU beef – introduced in the wake of the BSE outbreak in 1996 – market access for UK beef was granted in March 2020, and industry experts estimate beef exports will be worth £66 million over the next five years.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our beef is renowned as some of the best in the world for its high quality, food safety and welfare standards.This is great news for our food and farming industry.”

As one of the world leaders for animal welfare standards, UK beef is globally recognised for its provenance, quality and traceability. Through the Food is GREAT campaign, the UK government aims to raise the international profile and reputation of food and drink from across the UK and help more food and drink companies export their produce abroad.

Dr Phil Hadley is the International Market Development Director for the Kenilworth-based Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. He said: “The US represents an important potential market for our red meat exports and today’s first shipment is the result of the hard work and persistence of industry and government to bring about this crucial next step. This important milestone will bring a fantastic boost to the sector and we look forward to seeing more of our red meat served up on dinner tables across the US in the months and years to come.

The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Audit Report, a crucial step leading to British exporters being able to sell to the US, was published in March 2020, and confirmed that UK meat hygiene systems and controls are of a suitable, equivalent standard for products to be imported to the USA. The report noted that the whole of the UK meets the US’s production requirements, therefore beef from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is eligible for exports.