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Brexit: A no-deal beef and sheep meat summary

As the Brexit clock is ticking, we've collected this information to help you understand the potential impact a no-deal Brexit scenario could have on the UK beef and sheep meat sector.

No-deal Brexit explained

As the UK draws closer to another Brexit deadline, recent AHDB analysis concerning a no-deal situation has renewed relevance. A quick reference to previously published material, covering the possible implications of leaving without a deal, can be found below.

It has been well reported that the sheep sector is most vulnerable to a no deal Brexit, as the EU plays such an important role as a consumer of UK product. These exports will now face tariffs, and although some imports will also be subject to equal measures, it is expected that the UK will be oversupplied with lamb for some time. The beef sector is perhaps less at risk, and no huge changes are expected overnight, although markets will eventually be more open to global competition.

  • Import tariffs are proposed for sheep meat imports, at the same level imposed by the EU, and so it is expected that trade will be affected. However, tariff free access to the UK for New Zealand and Australia in particular will remain.
  • It is expected that the UK will be oversupplied with sheep meat in the short term and the market will have to adjust accordingly.
  • Import tariffs are proposed on beef, at a rate lower than the EU’s existing external tariffs. A tariff free quota has also been introduced.
  • This means that beef trade is unlikely to change dramatically in the first few months after Brexit. However, the new tariff rate quotas are available to all countries with a licence to export to the UK, not just EU member states.
  • It is expected that the market will adjust over time, perhaps to accommodate more competitively priced beef from outside the EU.
  • More immediately, there is likely to be particular difficulty for those exporting cow beef for further processing in the EU, and this may have an effect on the UK price.

Further reading

Opportunities for South American beef Beef tariffs and quotas in a no deal Brexit Beef and lamb quotas and tariffs for exporting to the EU under WTO rules UK sheep meat tariffs in a no deal Brexit UK lamb trade balances Tables showing sheep meat quotas in the event of a no-deal Brexit Possible impacts of a hard Brexit on UK sheep meat production


We talk about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit. It was recorded before the announcement of a new deal on 17 October, which still needs to be passed by both UK and EU parliaments and so leaves no-deal as a possibility.

We hear from Will Jackson, Strategy Director (Beef & Lamb), Duncan Wyatt, Lead Analyst for red meat, and Liam Byrne, Head of Meat Marketing.

Browse all AHDB Brexit podcasts

Latest Brexit beef and lamb news