Lamb from the UK will soon be heading to Saudi Arabia in an exports deal which could be worth £25 million (€28.2 million) over the next five years.
Saudi Arabian authorities have this week lifted the ban on sheep meat from the UK, following a detailed process to gain access to this new and lucrative market.
Exports of lamb could begin as early as next month once export certification is finalised and released.
The agreement comes following ongoing negotiations and inspections carried out jointly by: Defra; the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB); Food Standards Authority; UK Export Certification Partnership; the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
AHDB international market development director Phil Hadley said: “This is great news for the sheep industry and for lamb processors and producers in the UK who are keen to look at new, non-EU markets.
“The announcement is the result of ongoing and detailed work between all parties and is a testament to the high regard and quality of UK lamb.”
The news comes hot on the heels of an agreement to progress lifting the BSE ban on UK beef exports to China, as well as exports of a broader range of dairy products, following the Prime Minister’s visit to Beijing earlier this month.
Just a week ago it was revealed that UK red meat exports had passed £1.2 billion (€1.35 billion) in 2017 – showing significant growth since the vote to leave the EU.
Yesterday, Defra secretary Michael Gove told the National Farmers’ Union conference he was “acutely conscious” that farmers in many agricultural sectors were worried about how Brexit would affect their businesses.
However, he assured the crowd that agri-food exports would continue to be central to the economy, with the UK’s reputation for high welfare standards one of its biggest selling points.