UK beef exports continue strongly in February

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

The UK exported 10,500 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef in February, up 54% from the same month a year ago. This was the highest February beef export figure since 2011.

The uplift appeared to be largely driven by an increase in the quantity of fresh carcases, especially those sent to France, which saw tremendous growth compared to the same month in 2021. There was also growth in shipments of fresh boneless beef, again with growth to France, but also Ireland. Elsewhere, fresh and frozen shipments to the Netherlands also saw notable growth, doubling on the year before to 1,900 tonnes in February.

It is worth contextualising these increases; UK beef exports in February 2021 (and indeed in January) were historically low, initially following the shock of the Brexit deadline at the end of 2020. So at least some of the increases being seen in 2022 are a result of this shock being overcome.

Export volumes for the first two months of the year totalled 17,700 tonnes, up 55% year-on-year. The value of these shipments totalled £66.9 million, supported by a 20% increase in the average export price.

Import figures show that the UK bought in 39,200 tonnes of beef in February. This was triple the amount imported in February 2021 and is significantly higher than any monthly beef import figure in at least the last 20 years. While we would expect to see 2022 volumes to be in recovery from low exports last year (as we saw in January), this rise is unprecedented and somewhat unusual compared to longer-term trends. We will examine these figures again upon the next release.

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