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UK beef trade has a strong start to 2020

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

By Felicity Rusk

In January, UK exports of fresh and frozen beef recorded strong growth, compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, UK beef imports recorded a decline on the year.


UK exports of fresh and frozen beef recorded strong growth in January, totalling 11,300 tonnes, almost 20% more than in the previous year. This comes after December data recorded comparatively smaller growth (5%).

Shipments to all major export destinations increased in January. Exports to Ireland, the largest export destination increased by 13%, to 3,500 tonnes. Shipments to Hong Kong (+300 tonnes), the Philippines (+250 tonnes) and the Netherlands (+350 tonnes) all recorded year-on-year increases in volumes.


Exports also increased in value terms, although not to the same magnitude. In January, exports of fresh and frozen beef totalled £38.7 million, 11% more than in the same month in the previous year. This is due to a 7% decline in the average export unit price. While average unit prices continue to track below last year, the annual change has reduced in recent months.

An uplift in shipments was also recorded in offal and processed beef products. Offal exports increased by 9% on the year, to 4,150 tonnes. Meanwhile, exports of beef products increased by 11% to 700 tonnes.


In contrast, UK imports of fresh and frozen beef decline by 14% in January compared to the previous year, to 19,200 tonnes. This mirrors the trend seen throughout most of last year. This equated to a value of £72.7 million, 18% less than in the previous year.

Shipments from Ireland, the largest supplier of beef to the UK, fell by 12% to 14,800 tonnes. Imports also recorded a drop from Poland (-200 tonnes), Germany (-150 tonnes) and the Netherlands (-50 tonnes).


Imports of offal and processed beef products also recorded a decline in volume terms. Offal imports totalled 1,800 tonnes, 23% less than in the previous year, while imports of processed beef products fell by a quarter, to total 4,900 tonnes.

Felicity Rusk

Analyst - Dairy & Livestock

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