New report reveals sheep meat imports jumped 17% in 2022

New report reveals sheep meat imports jumped 17% in 2022

The total volume of fresh and frozen sheepmeat imported into the United Kingdom in the past twelve months saw a substantial rise of 17% to 63,800 tonnes, the latest Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Market Bulletin reports. 

Volumes received from the largest source of imported sheepmeat – New Zealand – were 3% higher than 2021. Significantly, though, much more than usual of this volume arrived in the form of frozen product as opposed to fresh. Frozen lamb accounted for 86% of the total New Zealand fresh and frozen sheepmeat imports, whereas in 2021 the equivalent figure was 57%.

“While there’s been a long-term decline in New Zealand lamb exports to the UK, we saw a three per cent year-on-year increase in 2022, and we also saw increases in imports from Ireland. However, the months of September through to November recorded abnormally high levels of frozen New Zealand product entering the UK,” said Glesni Phillips, HCC’s intelligence, analysis and business insight executive, in February’s HCC Market Bulletin.

“This news may be something that will surprise consumers, and has likely played a part in putting pressure on domestic lamb prices and causing volatility within the market. Furthermore, it could mean a longer-term disruption as frozen New Zealand lamb from the last quarter of 2022 may be still coming onto the market now.”

The total volume of fresh and frozen beef imported to the UK in 2022 stood at 233,300 tonnes – a slight decrease of 4% on the year. “A notable decline of eleven per cent in the volume of Irish beef drove this fall in shipments of fresh and frozen, despite volumes from both Germany and Poland being higher on the year,” said Glesni.

Fresh and frozen pig meat imported to the UK remained relatively stable on the year at 320,500 tonnes – with imports of bacon and sausages featuring in the increase.

The value of total red meat exports in 2022 (which includes offal and processed product) were reported as significantly higher than previous years at £1.8 billion. A total of 78,800 tonnes of sheepmeat left the UK during 2022, up by almost 8% year-on-year. It was worth £503.5 million, some 13% higher than 2021. Beef and veal exports rose by 17% on the year, with value significantly increasing by 46% to £640 million due to higher cattle farmgate prices on our domestic market. Total pigmeat exports were up 10% to £623.2 million, with volume rising by 7% to 372,600 tonnes.

The figures for the year were completed following the recent release of data by HMRC concerning December’s trade patterns.

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