Exports to rebound in second half of the year

Custom data released recently show that exports of meat and livestock products fell by an estimated 8.5% to £2.15bn in 2015. This represents the first fall since the early 2000s but should not come as a surprise as all commodities fell in 2015 and the value of sterling rose by more than 20% against the euro. 

Unsurprisingly, the export value of European pork fell by 6% in 2015 despite volumes being up 2%. Exports of pig offal rose by 30% in volume but by only 10% in value due to lower world prices. Pork exports including processed products amounted to £320m.

The situation is broadly similar with poultry, down 23% in value due to much lower prices in 2015. Sales of processed poultry fell by 15% in value despite aspirations for at least some stability on this front. Altogether, poultry exports are down 21% to £342.5m.

Carcase beef sales were down 8% in value to £342m, with prices and volume both falling. Bovine offal had a steadier performance, losing 3% in value to £61m, and processed beef contributed £24m for a total of £427m.

Estimates show a fall in sheep meat exports of about 3%. There was a large fall in exports of low-value items to Hong Kong, and lower lamb prices in sterling terms were compensated by higher European sales, with the exception of Norway. Incidentally, imports of New Zealand lamb in the autumn, the high season for British product, contributed to the lower prices. Overall, estimates of sheep meat exports are £370m.

Sterling has come back more than 10% from its peak of €1.44 and should, hopefully, come back further, helping make our exports more competitive. However, prospects for a return to higher prices for pork, poultry and fifth-quarter products are not positive for the first half of the year.

They should recover to an extent in the second half. This means a healthy rebound of exports in 2016.

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