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Sheep meat trade falls in December

Thursday, 20 February 2020

UK reported sheep meat exports fell in December, to 7,600 tonnes, according to data from HMRC. This is a reduction of 17% (1,600 tonnes) year on year, and was predominantly driven by a 31% (1,200 tonnes) drop in exports to France. This data should be treated with some caution however, as it is not corroborated by the French customs data. Export growth slowed in November, and with December’s data, fourth-quarter volumes were 5% lower than during the same period in 2018.

In 2019 as a whole, reported exports of sheep meat were 13% higher year on year at 93,600 tonnes. This has been driven by strong domestic production and healthy import demand from the continent.

Reported UK imports of sheep meat also fell in December, by 21% year on year. Volumes from New Zealand continued to be drawn to Asian markets, a pattern that has been seen all year. There is a risk that this could be temporarily interrupted as coronavirus disrupts the Chinese market. However, the underlying strength of Chinese demand is expected to remain for a long time to come.

Annual figures for 2019 show that the UK imported 62,500 tonnes of fresh/frozen sheep meat in 2019, 19% less than in 2018.

Duncan Wyatt

Lead Analyst - Red Meat

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