Does the German market hold opportunities for UK lamb?

Thursday, 6 May 2021

By Charlie Reeve

Germany is a net importer of sheep meat products. In 2020, Germany imported 47,900 tonnes of sheep meat (including offal) and exported just 5,000 tonnes.

Although the total volume of sheep meat that Germany has imported has remained relatively stable in recent years, the UK’s market share has been growing.  UK trade accounted for 32% of total sheep meat imports to Germany in 2020, compared to just 21% in 2018.

The value of these UK exports to Germany has doubled since 2016, totalling in excess of £80 million in 2020.

German import data for January showed a marked decrease in volumes coming from the UK (-85%). This in part reflects the logistical challenges exporters here have been facing in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU. However, German imports from elsewhere were lower too, and in total were down by 61% year on year.


Farmgate lamb prices in Germany are currently considerably higher than last year, reflecting a generally tighter EU lamb market. German deadweight prices in the week ending 2 May averaged over £7/kg, an increase of 165p/kg on the same week last year. This increase in prices sits alongside other European countries including France and Spain where sheep meat prices have been high in recent months.


Sheep meat production in Germany increased year-on-year in 2020 by 8% to total 26,000 tonnes. Germany was the only major sheep meat producing nation in the EU-27 to increase production during 2020.

A few weeks ago, it appeared that the relatively high price levels in the UK might have been a constraint on exports to Germany (and France). But, prices have been since been surging on the continent, helping support the price here.

The size and speed at which the 2021 lamb crop comes to market will be all important, as will demand across Europe as social distancing measures to deal with the pandemic come to an end.

Given the importance of the German market, AHDB has a representative in the country, Tim Schafer, who works to promote our products to the trade and consumer and grow our share of market value.

Recent British lamb promo in retail butchers in German

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