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Sheep Meat

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 281704, tabled on 24 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 23 July to Question 278955, what the economic basis is for an increase in the availability of lamb on the domestic market potentially leading to an increase in international demand for UK sheep meat products.

Answered on

9 September 2019

We remain focused on ensuring our smooth and orderly withdrawal from the EU with a deal as soon as possible. However, as a responsible Government we have been preparing to minimise any disruption in the event of a no deal.

The short term impacts of no deal are likely to be significant for some sectors. Of particular concern is the sheep sector, as over 30% of UK production is exported, approximately 95% of which is to the EU.

In the event of no deal, we expect exports to the EU to fall as the result of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. This will increase the supply of lamb on the domestic market, which may in turn depress the domestic price for lamb. With lamb consumption on a long term downward trend we would expect this to lead to an increase in domestic consumption.

Lower domestic prices will also make UK lamb more attractive to markets outside the EU. Developing market access and increasing UK exports remains a high priority with collaboration across Government and industry to identify priority markets. UK lamb exports to non-EU countries had a value of £15.2 million in 2018.

In January 2019, Defra successfully opened the market for lamb exports to Japan following its two decade long ban on imports from the UK. The market is estimated to be worth approximately £52 million over the first five years of access. The Japanese market has a growing demand for high quality lamb and Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign has already built lamb promotion into its activity there, showcasing UK lamb and beef to Japanese consumers, trade and media in April. The campaign will continue to promote lamb in Japan during September and October, capitalising on the cultural hook of the Rugby World Cup.

In December 2018 Defra opened the market for lamb exports to India. The new agreement, which covers a range of sheep meat cuts, is estimated by industry to be worth £6 million in the next five years.