Positive sheep meat export value driven by demand in EU and Middle East markets

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

Demand from the EU and the recovery of post-pandemic markets in the Middle East have helped drive increases in the value of UK sheep meat exports in the first half of 2023.

Latest figures from HMRC show that from January to June sheep meat exports, including offal, were worth £277 million (up 12.9% on the year) and volumes stood at 43,374 tonnes (up 16.1% on the year).

The value of shipments to the EU during the period was up 12.9% on the year (at £263.8 million) while volumes rose by 15.5% on the year. Exports to non-EU countries increased by 14.1% in value year-on-year, while volume was up by 25.5%.

This included exports worth:

  • £3.9 million to Kuwait – up 20.9% on the year
  • £780,471 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – an increase of 2.8% on the year
  • £135,218 to Jordan − up 122% on the year

Next month (September), we will lead a trade mission to Kuwait to explore further export opportunities for red meat.

Jonathan Eckley, AHDB Head of International Trade Development, said:

“The value of sheep meat exports from the UK in the first half of the year have been very encouraging, driven by demand from high-value markets in northern Europe and burgeoning markets in the Middle East.

“Post-pandemic demand in the Middle East in particular is welcome as the region represents one of AHDB’s key strategic markets for the sheep meat sector.”

The performance of sheep meat exports contributed to the overall value of red meat exports remaining stable in the first half of the year. From January to June red meat exports were worth £860 million – up marginally on the same period in 2022.

Pig meat exports volumes for the first half of 2023 were down 22.9%, with the value falling marginally by 0.5%. Beef export volumes for the period fell by 21.7% and in value by 10.4%.

Jonathan added:

“Carcase balance remains an important factor for both the beef and pork sectors, with fifth quarter products playing a key role. For the beef sector, offal exports to third country markets were up 8% on the year in the first half of 2023, largely driven by demand from West Africa. Again, this is a region the AHDB export team has been developing for some time and this autumn we will lead a delegation of exporters there to build on our established reputation.

“Subdued demand, particularly from some Asian markets, coupled with lower production have been the primary drivers behind the drop in pig meat exports for the first half of this year. However, demand for fifth quarter has remained robust, with only a marginal decline. China remains a key market in this region and we saw an increase in the volume of fifth quarter exports there of 16% in the first half on the year.

“AHDB remains committed to working with industry and Government to maximise the opportunities for high-quality red meat and dairy on the global stage. This will be underlined in October when AHDB will be joined by leading exporters at ANUGA in Cologne – the biggest trade show of the year to showcase UK produce and connect with key buyers from around the world.”