UK beef exports perform well in November while imports lag behind

Friday, 17 January 2020

By Felicity Rusk

The latest figures published by HMRC showed that in November, UK beef trade continued to follow the trends recorded for most of the year. UK beef exports increased by 23% on year. Meanwhile imports were down by 23% on the year.


The UK’s beef export market has continued to perform well for another month. In November, shipments of fresh/frozen beef were up by 23% on the year, at 12,800 tonnes.

Throughout 2019, beef exports have continued to track above 2018 levels. In the year to November, exports totalled 125,600 tonnes, almost 25% more than in the previous year. That said, the rise in value terms has not been as marked, increasing by only 8% over the same period, as export prices have been 14% lower. Shipments to all major destinations increased.


UK fresh and frozen beef imports in November totalled 19,900 tonnes, 23% below the previous year. As such, in the year to November, UK imports totalled 224,500 head, 15% less than during the same period in the previous year.

The reduction in imports was recorded from all major suppliers. Imports from Ireland, the UK’s largest source of imported beef declined by almost 22%.

Weak domestic demand is a key driver of the decline in imports. Furthermore, Chinese demand for imported protein has risen significantly, following the outbreak of African Swine Fever. As such, many of the countries who historically supplied the UK market have increased shipments to China. The Chinese market is particularly attractive as the average Chinese import price is tracking above the UK price.

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