COVID-19 dampens UK beef trade in April

Thursday, 18 June 2020

By Hannah Clarke

Latest data from HMRC shows that UK beef trade activity (rather unsurprisingly) receded during April. Both imports and exports of fresh/frozen beef were down by 15% year-on-year.

As the first available data period fully covered by COVID-19 lockdown measures, the April figures indicate just how severely the widespread supply and demand disruption affected trade.

Imports for the month totalled just under 18,000 tonnes, down 3,200 tonnes on the year. This brings imports for January-April to 80,200 tonnes, down nearly 10% on the same period in 2019. A 5,100 tonne fall in shipments from Ireland was the largest contributor to lower UK imports in April, followed by the Netherlands (-1,400 tonnes). Ireland’s beef industry in particular has suffered because of COVID-19 lockdown measures due to its heavy reliance on exports to European foodservice markets.

UK exports during April totalled 8,500 tonnes, down 1,500 tonnes on the same month in 2019. Despite the April fall, exports for January-April were up nearly 3% on the year, at 42,400 tonnes. During the month, less beef was sent to the Netherlands (-915 tonnes), France (-365 tonnes) and Ireland (-235 tonnes) compared to the year before. Shipments to the Philippines and Italy also fell.

We’ll be publishing our updated Agri-Market Outlook for beef in the next few weeks, where we’ll analyse how the beef market has moved since the new year, and forecast how production, trade and consumption may change going forward.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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