Five of the most respected red meat importers from America are bound for the UK on a five-day mission to explore opportunities for lamb, ahead of the first commercial exports.

A delegation of importers and processors from the eastern region of the US will be arriving in London to take part in a programme of events, which includes a visit to the National Sheep Association Show in Malvern, next week.

The visit has been organised by AHDB in a bid to connect key importers from the US with lamb exporters, as well as showcasing the varied breeds and rich history of farming in the UK.

The delegation includes one of the most respected distributors in the eastern half of the US – delivering to 27 states and exporting to Latin America.

It includes an importer which supplies hundreds of restaurants, retailers, hotels, universities and caterers throughout Virginia, Washington and Maryland.

One of the top importers and exporters of meat and seafood will also be taking part in the mission, alongside two leading lamb buyers.

It comes as the UK prepares to export lamb to the US for the first time in 20 years, once the final approval process has been completed. The deal, secured last year, is estimated to be worth £37m in the first five years of trade.

Susana Morris, AHDB senior export manager said: “We are delighted to be hosting this mission as our visitors are some of the most respected importers on the east side of the US, where demand for lamb is growing in popularity.

"By hosting these guests and introducing them to our farmers and processors, we will hopefully be on the front foot when we get the green light to export.”

The mission will include a visit to a butcher’s shop in Hampshire, owned by a family who have been farming for over 750 years, as well as two farms in Redditch and Cirencester.

They will also have the opportunity to visit two processors who process more than a million lambs each year.

The delegation will visit retailers Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to see how red meat is showcased in the aisles, followed by a visit to an abattoir facility that processes high quality lamb for retail, wholesalers and international markets.