Thursday, 4 November 2021
Sheep meat production in the EU has increased so far in 2021. Combined with an overall reduction in traded volumes, this suggests demand in the bloc may have fallen.
In the year to July, the EU produced 254,000 tonnes of sheep meat, a 1% increase compared with a year earlier. Spain, the bloc’s biggest producer, increased production by 5% to 72,000 tonnes. France upped production too, by 4% to 53,000 tonnes. In Ireland, production has followed a similar pattern to the UK, falling by 10% to 34,000 tonnes.
According to data from Eurostat, external trade has fallen in the year to July. Imports of sheep meat are dominated by two suppliers, the UK with 50% market share and New Zealand with just over 40%. Volumes from both have fallen to make a combined drop of around 20%. In the case of New Zealand, relatively stable total exports over the period, but with more directed towards China and the US, meaning limited volumes available for Europe (and the UK). In the case of the UK itself, logistical difficulties immediately following Brexit, lower production and high prices have all contributed to the lower volumes.
Taking production and trade together suggests that consumption of sheep meat overall in the bloc has decreased. Despite the rise in domestic production, the tighter supply situation overall has supported prices across the region, indicating that while less sheep meat may have been consumed, it may not be because of a lack of demand for it.
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