UK beef imports remain low for the year-to-date

Thursday, 22 October 2020

By Charlie Reeve

The latest HMRC trade data for August has now been released. The UK continues to be a net importer of beef products based on both trade volumes during August and total trade for the year-to-date. UK exports accounted for around 20% of total UK beef production in August, according to Defra data.

Imports

The latest HMRC trade data shows that during August, total beef (fresh/frozen, offal and processed) imports declined marginally on the previous month to total 23,500 tonnes. Despite this, imports are now higher than the same month last year. For the year-to-date, imports remain below last year’s levels, although this gap may potentially begin to tighten in the coming months.

During the first 8 months of the year Ireland accounted for 70% of the UK’s total beef imports.

Exports

Total beef exports were estimated at 13,600 tonnes during August. A slight increase on July, although volumes remained notably below the same month last year, according to HMRC.

Based on the first 8 months of trade for the year, overall beef exports are down 3% year-on-year totalling 119,900 tonnes.

The major export destinations for UK beef remain the same year-on-year, with the vast majority currently going to the EU (in particular Ireland, France and the Netherlands). However, in the coming months, we may see other destinations around the world increasing volumes, such as the US, Japan and China as new trade deals come into fruition.

The relatively high GB beef prices seen in recent months, are likely to be a factor making UK exports less competitive, although a weak sterling compared to the Euro will help to offset this somewhat.

Charlie Reeve

Analyst - Livestock

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