UK lamb exports depressed again

Thursday, 16 September 2021

By Rebecca Wright

As of January 2021 data, the way HMRC collects trade data has changed, which will be reflected in the trade statistics. Comparisons between this and historic data should be treated with caution, and may well be subject to future revisions.

During July UK fresh and frozen sheep meat exports totalled 6,200 tonnes, down 26% on the year, according to HMRC data. The EU remains the largest destination for UK exports, with 95% being sent there during the month. Reports suggest that administratively some exporters are finding it easier to ship to France and then send product onwards within the bloc. This may be influencing the volume declared for individual countries.

In the year-to July exports stand at 35,200 tonnes, 25% less than in the same period last year. Almost all the decline can be attributed to the EU. The declines have been recorded across both carcases and cuts. Average prices have increased significantly, although not by enough to offset the drop in volume. So far this year exports have been worth £221.5 million, 5% less than at this point last year.

Imports during July increased 9%, to 4,200 tonnes. Although this is a rise, it is still below pre-pandemic volumes. The increase was driven by New Zealand, but partially offset by a decline from Ireland.

So far this year total imports stand at 31,900 tonnes, a 14% decline on the year. The value of these imports is down 17%, to £171.6 million. High shipping costs are likely to continue to limit import volumes at least in the short term.

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