DEMAND FOR red meat in Asia has soared due to the ongoing African Swine Fever outbreak and could offer opportunities for UK meat exporters.

This message was heard by almost 200 delegates who took part in an AHDB export webinar, where they were told that despite the impact coronavirus has had on global trade, the UK is ‘weathering the storm’ and continuing to ship red meat to key target markets.

They learnt that there were further opportunities to be had across Asia in markets other than China, such as Taiwan, Singapore and especially Vietnam, where there has been a significant drop in domestic pork production as a result of the AFS outbreak. Recent research revealed that that pork production in the country has fallen by 17% with an expectation to further drop to around 52% by the end of the year.

Meat director of GIRA Foods, Rupert Claxton, told the delegates that it could take a decade for Vietnam’s pork sector to recover: “There is a real opportunity to potentially increase volumes over the next five to ten years.”

He also stated that the US is expected to increase its pork exports to China following a brief hiatus as a result of the coronavirus, suggesting that competition for the Chinese marketplace looks set to intensify, thus increasing the need for the UK to ‘further develop a wide range of export opportunities’.

AHDB’s head of Asia Pacific, Jonathan Eckley, stressed the importance of markets such as Taiwan and Singapore during his presentation, highlighting the ongoing work of AHDB’s export team.

“While inward and outward missions have been cancelled due to coronavirus, the work of AHDB’s export team continues and we are working collaboratively with agencies and partners in a number of markets to fly the flag for the UK’s red meat sector,” commented Mr Eckley.

In 2019, the UK’s red meat exports totalled over £1.5 billion worth of pork, lamb and beef, which were shipped to markets around the world. The start of 2020 presented challenges, following lockdown in China, which resulted in some logistical disruptions affecting shipments. However, by the end of March, UK pig meat exports had again surpassed year earlier levels, driven by increased demand as logistics started to ease in China.

Mr Eckley continued: “We know that it is a very challenging time, not just for the UK, but work is ongoing to promote the high quality of our red meat to new and emerging markets. Travel restrictions will continue to cause difficulties for us and other nations, but we are finding new and innovative ways of working to ensure that the UK is well positioned to benefit from all future global opportunities.”

Those who would like to listen back to the webinar can access it at

A second webinar is due to be held on July 2, and will focus on the US market.