The first shipment of Icelandic lamb was exported to China this week, RÚV reports. Björn Víkingur Björnsson, CEO of Fjallalamb Ltd, says the meat was well received, which bodes well for increased export opportunities in the near future.
Icelandic lamb producer Fjallalamb is the first and, so far, only company to have been granted a license to export lamb to China and has been working to get its product onto the Chinese market for two years, ever since the two countries revised the terms of their free trade agreement in 2018. Per the revised terms, exported lamb must receive a health certification; exported meat may only come from lambs under six months of age that were born and bred in scrapie-free regions. Slaughterhouses, meat packing centres, and storage centres where the meat is processed or held must also be located in scrapie-free regions. Fjallalamb is currently the only Icelandic lamb producer to fulfil these requirements.
Fjallalamb’s first test shipment contained around 20 tonnes of lamb. Björn Víkingur says that it took a long time to find companies that could connect Fjallalamb with the market it’s seeking to enter in China, namely “high-class restaurants.”
The CEO continued that his company’s Chinese customers “are extremely interested – they’ve tasted the meat and want to make an ongoing agreement.”
At the time that Fjallalamb received its export license, Björn Víkingur said that it was not possible for the company to sell all its product on the Icelandic market. In order to meet demand in China, however, it’s likely that the company will need to increase its production, although it’s unclear at this time by just how much. “If it works out that farmers can increase production and if, as I think is likely, China wants more in the fall if all goes well, then this could be a promising situation.”