Monday, 22 October 2018
The importance of exploring new export opportunities, potential rules of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and the financial future for UK agriculture were some of the key points discussed at AHDB’s Global Britain conference in London this week.
Headlined by the Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, the high-profile event was the AHDB’s first cross-sector export conference, attracting an audience of more than 150 delegates.
During the conference, Mr Fox denied plans to lower food and farming standards post-Brexit and highlighted the importance of engaging with overseas markets to grow UK exports.
He said: “We all understand the global position we face that by 2050 there will be three million more mouths to feed in the world than we have today and the world is constantly looking for new sources of protein.”
Mr Fox pointed to the scale of opportunity for British suppliers in China which, by 2030, will have 220 cities with a population of more than a million as opposed to the whole of Europe which has just 35.
“We should be looking at what we can do to fill those markets,” he added. “We have the climate, we have the abilities with the quality of our soil and knowledge in our agricultural economy to be able to raise our production to be able to fill some of those markets.”
Delegates were also given an overview of what a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario would look like for the UK during a presentation from the Director of Agriculture and Commodities at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Edwini Kessi.
He told the crowd that the UK would receive most favoured nation treatment as a member of the WTO and would benefit from the security and predictability of market access.
Mr Kessi also discussed the different forms of tariffs and agreed there was much to do to get countries to bring them down – with work already underway to achieve this.
The conference also included a presentation from Allan Wilkinson, Head of Agrifoods at HSBC who explored the financial future for UK agriculture.
AHDB experts from the livestock and crop sectors also provided industry updates during two breakout sessions. Among them were Duncan Wyatt, AHDB Red Meat Lead Analyst, who delivered a UK outlook for beef, lamb and pork, and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds board member Andrew Osmond, who looked at market opportunities for UK wheat, barley and oats exports, while board member Andrew Skea covered potato exports.
Chris Gooderham, AHDB Dairy Lead Analyst, gave an overview of the sector including the impact of this year’s weather on milk production and market prices in the UK and Europe and AHDB Market Specialist Vikki Campbell provided a UK outlook for crops.
And Steven Evans, AHDB Consumer Insight Manager, gave a presentation on international consumer research on livestock products, which included a recent Horizon report exploring international buying behaviour and views on British products, key purchase drivers and attitudes towards issues such as quality and food safety.
AHDB’s International Market Development Manager Dr Phil Hadley ended the conference with an overview of the organisation’s export work and highlighted the recent successes for the UK in gaining access to new markets.
Among those were China lifting its long-standing ban on UK beef in a deal which is worth an estimated £250 million over the next five years and an agreement to ship UK pork to Taiwan for the first time – which is worth an estimated £50 million over five years.
Other successes include a new export deal worth £34 million which will see UK beef join pork, poultry, lamb and dairy on the list of food and drink shipped to the Philippines as well as ongoing work to reopen the market on UK beef and lamb exports to Japan.
Dr Hadley said: “As the UK prepares to take its place on the global platform as a trading entity, it’s vital that we are seen as a key exporter of our sectors products. AHDB will continue to work with government, stakeholders and key industry partners to find new markets globally that value our world-leading products.”