UK presents opportunity for US meat exporters - GAIN report

Products face significant barriers to entry though
calendar icon 9 January 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

The United Kingdom (UK) has a population of 67.1 million. It is a leading trading power and financial centre and the third-largest economy in Europe. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised, and efficient by European standards, but accounts for less than 1% of the gross domestic product. While UK agriculture produces about 58% of the country’s food needs with less than 2% of the labour force, the UK is heavily reliant on imports to meet the varied demands of the UK consumer, who expects year-round availability of all food products. This gap presents opportunities for exporters, according to a recent USDA GAIN report.

Eggs and poultry are in the UK's top-three consumer-oriented growth products. While the UK presents opportunities in terms of promoting products that focus on the environment, sustainability, and health trade barriers have been imposed on certain products, including meat and poultry. US agriculture has regular negative portrayal in the UK media, making acceptance of products from that part of the world challenging. 

"Largely driven by the news coverage, US food and agriculture is perceived as having lower animal welfare and environmental standards than their British counterparts," the report said. "Several supermarket chains have pledged to “never stock chlorinated chicken” instead preferring to support British farmers."

US beef, poultry, and dairy products face significant barriers to entry into the UK. For instance, to obtain the necessary export certification from USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), US poultry must
not be treated with antimicrobials. As this practice is approved by the FDA and is widespread in the United States, an effective import ban is in place. 

US beef and poultry must also be slaughtered and processed in a UK approved establishment. All US beef products must come from Non-Hormone Treated Cattle.

Dairy products must come from a UK approved establishment. For dairy, the approval of plants is managed by FDA (but the export license is issued by the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and
Agricultural Marketing Service). All animal and animal products require an import license, be it Product 8 of Animal Origin (POAO), milk and milk products, etc.

For those planning to enter the UK market, the USDA report suggests following UK food laws, including packaging and labelling requirements. If required, obtain animal product health certificates. It is also important to be aware of UK animal welfare standards.

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