Sheep meat exports increase in 2023, says HCC

Sheep meat exports increase in 2023, says HCC

Fresh and frozen sheep meat exports from the UK performed well in the first six months of the year, recording a 14% year-on-year increase as imports fell “considerably”.

Sheep meat exports totalled 43,400 tonnes in the first six months of 2023.

Some 94% of volume went to markets within the European Union, and both France and Germany received an additional 2,500 tonnes and 1,700 tonnes compared with 2022. This is according to an analysis of HMRC data detailing January-June UK red meat export performance by HCC.

Glesni Phillips, HCC’s Market Intelligence, Analysis and Business Insight executive, said: “This occurred despite lamb production on the UK market being less than 1% higher than year-earlier levels. And as supply in the UK is usually highest during the latter half of the year, we would expect this strong trade to continue.”

The volume of sheep meat (including offal) exported from the UK during the six-month period totalled 43,400 tonnes – an increase of 16% on the year, while the total value rose by 13% to £277.5 million.

Imports of sheep meat saw a decrease of 31% (12,800 tonnes) with 28,000 tonnes of sheep meat arriving into the UK during the first half of 2023. Fresh and frozen imported products also experience a significant decrease of 33%, around 8,000 tonnes less sheep meat from New Zealand than in the comparable period a year earlier. Shipments from New Zealand still accounted for almost 60% of the total volume of fresh and frozen sheep meat received into the UK.

“It would seem that this decrease reflects changes to global consumer demand that have impacted on UK import trends. Much of the product from New Zealand and Australia has been shipped into China,” said Phillips.

Beef and pork exports fall

HMRC data revealed the total volume of beef exported from the UK in the January-June period stood at 65,300 tonnes (down 22%), while the value of total exports fell by 10% to £287.4 million. Fresh and frozen beef export volumes stood at 50,300 tonnes – also down 22%.

Phillips said: “Exports are down as much on the year due to subdued demand from consumers in Europe and because UK cattle prices have been strong, and therefore not as competitive on the global trading landscape.”

Total beef imports during the six-month period fell by 5% on the year to 143,100 tonnes, while the value of imports increased by almost 2% to £754.7 million. Fresh and frozen imports of beef volumes were down 7% (or 7,700 tonnes) on the year to 109,400 tonnes.

Pork volume exported during the period decreased significantly year-on-year, falling 23% to 151,800 tonnes worth £294.7 million (down 0.5%). Total pork imports during the six-month period fell by 8% in volume terms to 381,900 tonnes.

“Pork exports are subdued due to the continued contraction of the UK pig herd as cost of production values rocketed for UK producers,” said Phillips. “This is also highlighted in the UK Government figures, which indicate pork production during the six-month period was down 13% on the year at 457,200 tonnes.”

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