UK Lamb exports decline in October, while imports rise

Thursday, 17 December 2020

By Bronwyn Magee


According to the latest HMRC data, UK exports of sheep meat (fresh/frozen) fell 13% year on year in October to 7,700 tonnes. Exports to both France and Germany declined, falling by 16% and 8% respectively, while shipments to Ireland grew by 24% on the year. Despite this, exports to Ireland for the year to date remain comparable to that seen in 2019, due to a decline in shipments seen earlier in the year.

France entered a second lockdown at the end of October, which as an important market for UK sheep meat, and bars and restaurants may remain closed until late January. This would limit demand for UK export volumes. So, it may be that opportunities to export early, and pre-empt possible tariffs should no trade deal be reached, may be limited. Estimated GB slaughter in the first two weeks of December, although are lower year on year.

In the year to October, export volumes fell by 9% (7,100 tonnes) when compared to the same period last year, totalling 70,500 tonnes. Despite this, it seems higher domestic farm gate prices have continued to support the value of these exports. As such, the value of exports for the year to October rose by 9% compared to the same period last year to £351 million. 


UK imports of sheep meat totalled 3,500 tonnes in October, increasing by 9% (280 tonnes) compared to the same month last year. Much of this increase came from shipments from New Zealand, increasing by a notable 42% to 1,800 tonnes. This is likely due to a strong price margin over domestic prices. Meanwhile, volumes from both Australia (-12%) and Ireland (-23%) fell on the year.

Despite the growth in October, total imports for the year to date (Jan-Oct) were down on the year by 6% at 49,100 tonnes. Most of this decline can be attributed to falling imports from Ireland, down 3,000 tonnes in the year-to-date.

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