Northern Ireland’s meat industry received a boost this week with news that beef and lamb exports to Japan have received approval.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, has welcomed the announcement of the approval for products from the UK.
Following the announcement by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Dr Huey said the news provided another major boost to the Northern Ireland agri-food industry and to the wider economy and builds on the significant success achieved during 2018 in relation to Australia, Philippines and Taiwan.
The agreement, signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United Kingdom, is estimated to be worth a total of £127 million to the UK over the first five years of access – approximately £75 million for beef and £52 million for lamb.
Japan, a major importer of beef with a growing demand for high quality lamb, has lifted its two-decade long ban on imports of these products with immediate effect.
Dr Huey said: “This welcome step follows concerted efforts by DAERA officials over the past few years, working closely with DEFRA colleagues, who hosted a number of inward inspection visits, and with industry to negotiate final approval. This joined up approach between Government, industry and key stakeholders is central to this announcement today.”
Mr Huey continued: “I am delighted that Japan has granted approval for the UK to export beef and lamb to their markets. It is a clear endorsement of the rigorous standards we, in Northern Ireland, have in place to produce our high-quality, safe and wholesome meat. We place a clear emphasis on traceability at the heart of our production and processing and recognise that a joined up, safe and efficient food supply is essential.”
The CVO added: “DAERA continues to invest much time and energy into opening new markets to expand the Northern Ireland agri-food industry. I look forward to our exports being able to commence shortly.”
Ian Stevenson, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Livestock & Meat Commission, also welcomed the announcement.
He said: “As one of the world’s largest meat importing nations, bringing in more than 900 thousand tonnes of beef and lamb in 2018, it is very welcome news that Japan is now open for approved exporters of Northern Irish beef and lamb products. Whilst tariff rates may limit trade in some areas, having access to this market is an exciting opportunity and one that highly values offals in the import mix.”