UK beef shipments remain robust in March

Thursday, 19 May 2022

According to figures from HMRC, the UK exported 12,600 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef in March, up 14% from February and up 46% compared to the same month a year ago. While significantly higher year-on-year, the volume was closer to the amount exported in 2019 and 2020.

This meant that the UK shipped 30,800 tonnes of beef during the first quarter of the year, 53% more than the volume shipped during the same period a year ago. Within this, 9,000 tonnes were sent to Ireland, 7,000 tonnes to France and 5,600 tonnes to the Netherlands. Growth was also seen to non-EU destinations, notably Japan, China and the US. 

We would expect to see more beef being traded now than a year ago, as Brexit disruption hampered volumes particularly in the first quarter of 2021. Shipments recovered to more typical levels in the second half of the year, with the trend continuing into 2022.

During March, the UK imported 21,700 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef, down 45% from February’s high, but up 23% versus the same month a year ago.

While considerably lower than February, March’s import figure was closer to the trend seen in January (+15% year-on-year), further suggesting that February’s figure is on the unusual side. Data will be monitored for future potential revisions.

Nonetheless, March volumes meant that quarter one imports stood at 77,400 tonnes, up 73% versus the same period in 2021. Again, some of this increase will be because of 2021’s low levels (and February’s high figure), but also likely due to increasing demand from the foodservice sector.

Almost all the annual increase in quarter one was due to more beef from Ireland, at 58,000 tonnes for the quarter, up 60% (+21,700 tonnes) year-on-year. More was also imported from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Poland.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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