Beef imports on the up, while exports slow

Beef imports to the UK were up by 870 tonnes to 21,200 tonnes in April compared with the same time last year, according to the AHDB. 

Imports from Ireland were up by 4%, but despite the increase, product coming into the UK was at its lowest for the year to date. And despite the favourable exchange rate, imports from EU countries, especially Poland and the Netherlands slowed down. Outside the EU, imports were led by Australia, though volumes were down by 19% year on year.

Meanwhile, exports of beef from the UK were down 12% to 6,780 tonnes compared to April 2014, with shipments to Ireland up by over a third. However, some of this product had been sent to Ireland for processing, and was then re-exported.
Exports to Belgium and the Netherlands slumped by around 70% compared to last year, while shipments to France and Italy were on the up. Outside the EU, exports to Hong Kong doubled compared to the same time last year.

While it was a mixed bag for the beef market, the picture with sheep meat was more consistent, with both imports and exports dropping. Imports to the UK in April fell by 14% to 10,700 tonnes, although this can partly be explained by the fact that Easter fell early this year and that all shipments for the Easter market would have been made during March, while in 2014 they were divided between March and April.

However, imports were also down on the same period in 2013, when Easter fell on a similar date to this year. New Zealand remained the key supplier of lamb to the UK market and, despite imports dropping by 12% compared to the previous year, New Zealand actually increased its share of the UK import market to 78%. Volumes of sheep meat from other markets also slid, with imports from Australia and Ireland down by 15% and 28% respectively.

Sheep meat exports from the UK were also down by 27% in April, compared to the same month in 2014 to 6,200 tonnes. Volumes exported to Europe were down 16% at 5,800 tonnes, while shipments to Hong Kong were also considerably lower at 133 tonnes. However, the AHDB said these figures may not reflect the true overall picture and were subject to revision.

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