UK sheep meat exports down, driven by a drop in carcase volumes

Thursday, 18 June 2020

By Rebecca Wright

During April UK exports of fresh and frozen primary sheep meat totalled just over 6,100 tonnes, down 2,300 tonnes year-on-year, according to HMRC data. UK export volumes were expected to contract due to the on-going COVID-19 situation both here, and on the continent. The operating status on many of France’s butchers and markets varied through the month. Almost all of the volume decline was in carcase exports, reflecting food outlets being closed in France. Export volumes to France and Germany both declined on-the-year, although remained above 2018 levels.

UK imports of sheep meat fell by 500 tonnes year-on-year, to 8,300 tonnes in April. Shipments from New Zealand were back 700 tonnes, whereas there was a rise of 500 tonnes in volumes from Australia. Imports from Ireland declined 200 tonnes. Looking forwards, shipments from New Zealand are likely to be under pressure with supply tight and continued demand in China.

During the first four months of 2020, UK exports have declined 5,600 tonnes, to 24,600 tonnes. Much of the decline was in March and April reflecting the pressure coronavirus has put on trade volumes. Over the same period, total UK sheep meat imports stand at 25,300 tonnes, down 1,300 tonnes on-the-year. Within this New Zealand has sent less, with Australia upping shipments.

Rebecca Wright

Analyst - Red Meat

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