Sheep meat imports down again in November

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

Sheep meat import volumes fell by 9% in November, compared to the previous year, totalling just 4,300 tonnes. This was the lowest import level during the month of November on records going back to 1997.

The drop was driven in particular by a decline in shipments from New Zealand, which fell by 10% to 2,200 tonnes. The decrease in this trade was primarily due to lower imports of fresh/chilled bone-in cuts, which recorded a decline of over 40%, to little over 700 tonnes. Conversely, volumes of frozen bone-in cuts from New Zealand increased by nearly 50%, to 1,100 tonnes, and compensated for much of this decline.

Imports from Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands also fell noticeably, with each supplier providing about 100 tonnes less than last year.

For the first time in 2020, the average price of sheep meat imported into the UK was lower than in 2019 during November, at £5.07/kg. This meant the overall value of shipments was down 11% at £21.8 million.

This leaves overall sheep meat imports into the UK in the first eleven months of 2020 7% down on the previous year at 53,400 tonnes. Within that, volumes from New Zealand were down 2% at 34,700 tonnes.

Exports reported by HMRC during the month totalled 7,000 tonnes. This is a 17% decline on November 2019. The largest fall was recorded in volumes going to France, which only totalled 2,600 tonnes, 27% lower than the year before. Demand from France has been depressed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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