Beef and pork exports drop in first half of 2017

A “slow start” has hit UK beef and pork exports, resulting in a year-on-year decline for the first half of 2017.

According to HMRC and Food & Drink Federation (FDF) data, beef exports for the first six months of 2017 were worth £233 million (m), down 5% compared to the first half of 2016, while pork exports were worth £224.8m, down 1.9% year-on-year.

However, June represented an upswing for beef. AHDB Beef & Lamb reported that the UK beef and veal volumes in that month were up 4% compared to the same month in 2016. A “slow start” to the year did mean that total beef and veal exports for the first six months of the year were 7% down year-on-year.

The higher beef export volumes during this month were primarily driven by a recovery in shipments to Ireland, while exports to Germany also continued to report strong growth. On the import side, volumes in June were up 2% on the year at 23,400 tonnes, with shipments from the EU driving this increase, particularly from Ireland, Poland and the Netherlands.

The pork side didn’t see the same last-minute surge; UK fresh and frozen exports dropped 5% year-on-year in June in volume terms, according to HMRC data. This was attributed to limited availability of exportable supplies. However, the rise in the average unit price resulted in an 11% value growth.

According to AHDB Pork, the growth in pork exports was also affected by slower demand from China, with shipments 15% lower than in June 2016.

Both beef and pork still remain in the top 10 most exported UK products list and exports are expected to rise following the recent announcements of pork access to China for seven UK companies, and beef access to the Philippines.

Food Minister George Eustice said: “We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world, and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time.

“Last week we announced further market access to China for pork producers and UK beef will soon be heading to the Philippines. We will continue to work with industry to open new opportunities.”

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