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UK beef export prices fall, though volumes are steady in March

Thursday, 21 May 2020

By Jennie Tanner

In March, UK exports of fresh and frozen beef were virtually unchanged in volume compared to the year before, although values fell. UK imports declined in volume and value on the year also.


Exports of fresh and frozen beef from the UK remained unchanged from the previous year in March at 12,400 tonnes, after showing volume growth in January and February. This means exports for the year to date are 8% higher than the first quarter of 2019. The slowing up of exports can likely be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on demand and trade. 

Shipments to Ireland, usually the UK’s largest export destination fell 22% on the year during March. Meanwhile, exports to the Netherlands rose 31% to 3,500 tonnes, taking export volumes higher than Ireland. Exports to France and Hong Kong, were down 15% and 48% respectively. Shipments to the Philippines nearly doubled in March, to 550 tonnes.   

The value of exports in March fell when compared to the same month in 2019. The total export value for fresh and frozen beef was £32.7 million, down 23% on the year, due to a 23% reduction in the average unit price.   


The volume of imports was down 8% year-on- year in March to 23,500 tonnes. This follows the current trend for reduced import volumes. This brings imports for the first quarter of 2020 to 61,800 tonnes, a reduction of 11% compared to last year.  The value of UK beef imports during March was 4% lower compared to last year, supported by a 4% rise in unit prices.

March shipments from the UK’s largest supplier, Ireland, fell by 6% on the year to 19,300 tonnes. Imports from the Netherlands fell 45% to 900 tonnes. Conversely, imports from Poland increased 9% to 1,500 tonnes.




Jennie Tanner

Analyst - Dairy & Livestock

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