UK Regains Full Access to US Beef Market

The United States has received its first exports of beef from the United Kingdom in two decades.

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Sławomir Fajer

The first shipment of U.K. beef for the U.S. departed for the first time in over 20 years on Sept. 30. Market access for beef from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland was granted in March 2020 by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) following a thorough equivalency audit of UK meat hygiene systems and controls.

Welcoming the announcement, Karen Pierce, the British Ambassador to the United States, said:  “For the first time in over two decades, Americans will have the opportunity to taste the UK’s world-class, delicious beef. American consumers already have an appetite for a range of quality British products, including fine cheeses, whisky, salmon and biscuits, and beef is sure to become popular in the States. As we continue our current negotiations toward the UK-US free-trade agreement, I look forward to seeing how we can increase opportunities for Americans to experience the best of British products."

United Kingdom industry anticipates than £66 million in beef exports to the U.S. over the next five years. With trade and consumer promotion support from the Food is Great Britain and Northern Ireland campaign, U.K. exporters are well-placed to realize this goal and build on their existing export success in North America.

Antony Philipson, Her Majesty’s trade commissioner for North America, said: “I am delighted to see UK beef returning to American menus for the first time since the 1990s. Our producers have already proven there is robust North American demand and appreciation for their beef, with UK exports to Canada having grown by leaps and bounds this year. I look forward to seeing our exporters leverage this momentum as they enter the US, particularly as we continue to make progress on an ambitious UK-US FTA that will unlock even more opportunities.”   

The U.K. has a rich history of cattle farming, and the livestock found in its countryside today are the result of centuries of meticulous breeding for flavor, texture and environmental suitability. It is the heritage home of a number of diverse breeds including the Aberdeen Angus, popular in the U.S. for its creamy, evenly-distributed marbling; the Hereford, renowned for its succulence and classic taste profile; and the Highland, instantly recognizable by its shaggy coat and revered for its long, umami flavor.

With a highly-developed system of farm assurance, U.K. cattle are responsibly reared in line with some of the world’s most robust animal welfare and food safety standards. They benefit from predominantly foraged diets, grazing on the U.K.’s extensive, grass-based pasture systems. These pastures also provide a carbon sink and contribute to the character and beauty of the British and Northern Irish countryside. The combination of these breed, feed, rearing and terroir credentials result in a distinctive product with a globally-celebrated taste, texture, color and consumer appeal.   

Michael Acheson, the U.S. representative of Foyle Food Group, the Northern-Irish producer responsible for the first consignment, said: “We’re extremely proud to be responsible for the inaugural UK shipment. Our family-owned business has put over 40 years of expertise and research into producing the finest beef and we cannot wait to re-introduce UK products to our US customers.”