Beef imports vital for UK, says public body

With the UK only 80% self-sufficient in beef production according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), imports will continue to play a vital support role for beef consumption in Britain, an analyst has said.

Stuart Ashworth, Head of Economics Services at QMS reported that around 30% of beef consumed in the UK comes from outwith the country, when British exports are taken into account.

“The biggest supplier to the UK is Ireland who account for around 70% of beef imports. Imports from the rest of the European Union amount to around 20% leaving 10% to come from countries outside of the EU,” said Ashworth.

Cheaper beef imports from Ireland and Eastern European countries such as Poland have been blamed for crashing prices for British beef farmers. However Ashworth said there was very little evidence of large amounts coming in: “There has been some recent comment about supplies reaching the UK from Poland, but UK customs data suggest hardly any change in Polish activity with the UK. Indeed, Polish beef supplies to the UK were only slightly higher in the first five months of 2014 than they were in the same period of last year, at 2,900t. Nev