Sterling linked to cattle export fall

The rise in value of sterling has been attributed to the drop in exports of finished cattle, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Stuart Ashworth, head of economics at QMS, said the 10-15% increase in sterling at the start of 2015 made it difficult for processors to export.

“Provisional Customs data for January and February highlight this challenge by showing exports of UK beef have reduced by around 2,500 tonnes (t) (13%), while imports have increased by about 4,500t (11%),” he said. “Add to that an increase in domestic supply of around 3,000t (2%) during January and February and we find that the market has been working with around 8% more beef than a year ago.”

Ashworth also debunked any rumours of an increase in the use of Polish beef in Ireland. “There is no evidence of beef from Poland going into Ireland and then being re-routed into the UK as imports from Ireland.”

According to Irish Customs data, Ireland imported 1,957t of beef in January, an increase from 1,437t in January 2014, with 80% coming from the UK while just 10t came from Poland.

UK beef imports from Ireland increased by 12% during January and February 2015 year-on-year, accounting for around 71% of all UK beef imports and amounting to 28,763t.

Ashworth added that he expected the market to pick up in the second quarter of the year: “We know the availability of prime cattle in Scotland, UK and Ireland will diminish so, in the next quarter, we expect to see the volume of cattle arriving at abattoirs slow down. It is likely we will then see some firmness in the market for the beef producer.”

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