Headlined by International Trade Secretary 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.
AHDB’s International Market Development Manager, Dr Phil Hadley 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.”