Stronger sales in smaller European markets have helped UK beef exports surge this autumn.

Latest HMRC trade figures show beef and veal shipments in September totalled 10,100t – 28% higher on the year.

In the year so far, exports are running about 7% up at 82,400t.

While beef trade to the two main destinations Ireland and the Netherlands have shown decent rises, the fastest growth has been in more unusual European destinations.

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In the year to September, shipments to the Czech Republic were up 78%, Germany 19%, Italy 14%, Portugal 48% and Sweden 38%, while exports to Greece have quadrupled.

Further afield, beef and veal trade to Hong Kong totalled 2,854t between Janaury and September – 459% up on the same time last year.

Eblex export executive Jonathan Eckley said the latest results showed the important role all markets played in helping the industry realise its full export potential.

“A key point is that we have also seen a further shift away from carcass shipments to higher-priced cuts which represented 74% of total shipments, compared with around 60% four years ago.

“We will continue to work to create a profitable and sustainable demand for beef and lamb and maximise returns for the industry supply chain through our focus on exporting cuts and making full use of the carcass.”