New Zealand Sheep meats exports to UK remain low during 2020

Thursday, 25 February 2021

By Charlie Reeve

In 2020, total sheep meat exported from New Zealand to the UK amounted to 39,900 tonnes.

Despite imports being up marginally by 4% on the previous year, it is worth noting that in 2019, import volumes were especially low. 2020 import volumes from New Zealand were still down 27% (-14,700 tonnes) compared to the five-year-average.

In 2020, the UK accounted for only 10% of the total volume of New Zealand’s total sheep meat exports, whereas based on the last five years, on average 14% of New Zealand exports have been exported to the UK.

The total value of New Zealand exports of sheep meat to the UK was £212.5 million, an increase of 7% year-on-year.

Beef and lamb NZ have already mentioned a reduced New Zealand lamb crop of 2020/21 due to droughts which tighten supplies available for export. Not only is supply tighter in New Zealand, but the destinations have moved with a heavier focus on the Asian Market.

Traditionally, Q1 sees the largest volume of imports to the UK from New Zealand, although there have been some anecdotal reports of lower export volumes from New Zealand so far in 2021. We will have to wait until more up-to-date trade date becomes available to be able to sees if these reports are correct.


The gap between farmgate prices in New Zealand and the UK has been widening in recent months, following the uplift in GB farmgate prices since the start of the year.

What does this mean for British farmers?

There is already a tight supply of lambs in the UK’s domestic market which is helping to support prices at the moment. With relatively low levels of sheep meat imports entering the UK and a tighter availability of lamb globally, domestic prices may be supported further.

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