26 May 1995

British meat exporters home in on Portugal

BRITISH meat exporters made their presence felt at Alimentaria, the international food exhibition in Lisbon, Portugal.

Although the country only has a population of 9m, Portugal is the seventh biggest importer of British meat – a trade worth over £10m last year.

Business has increased by 73% from 4000t to 6931t since 1992 when the £ was devalued (see table). Only since then have British exporters been able to compete on a level playing field.

The Meat and Livestock Commissions British Meat stand displayed a range of cuts suited to Portuguese butchers, including Welsh Quality Lamb.

Processed foods such as Scotch eggs and meat pies were increasing in popularity, and selling well in holiday resorts.

In total, southern European markets accounted for 20,000t of British lamb exports. As Ken Jones, MLCs export marketing manager, explained: "These are small lambs, such as Welsh Mountain, which only weigh up to 12.5kg dw. Before there was no outlet for this product." With shipping costs standing at £2000 a truck, each needed to carry 1500 lambs to justify the journey.

The previous week MLC exhibited at Detrop, the Greek food fair. The holiday trade there is increasing its demand for British sausages and other processed foods. Over 1300t of sheepmeat was exported to Greece in1994.

The Irish were first-time exhibitors at Alimentaria. Their Portuguese lamb exports are significant at 3000t annually. Beef and pork stand at 400t and 1500t, respectively.

UK exports to Portugal (t)

9294% change