Coronavirus causes UK beef and lamb export drop in March

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According to the latest Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Beef & Lamb figures, UK exports of fresh and frozen sheep meat fell 40% in volume terms compared to the previous year while values also fell by 21%.

Exports to all the UK’s main export destinations dropped, with shipments to France, the UK’s largest export destination falling 45% year-on-year due to the foodservice lockdown implemented in March while exports to Germany, Belgium and Ireland were down 48%, 21% and 50% respectively.

Imports from New Zealand and Australia rise

It also reported that sheep meat imports increased 16% in volume terms and 34% in value terms. Most of this increased volume came from New Zealand and Australia up 1,100 tonnes and 700 tonnes respectively. Imports from these countries rose because New Zealand and Australia struggled to ship some product to China.

Beef remains static

AHDB also reported that UK exports of fresh and frozen beef were virtually unchanged in volume compared to the year before, although values fell. The total export value for fresh and frozen beef was £32.7 million, down 23% on the year, due to a 23% reduction in the average unit price. Shipments to Ireland, usually the UK’s largest export destination fell 22% on the year during March, also due to the coronavirus lockdown in that country.

It did report that exports to the Netherlands rose 31% to 3,500 tonnes, taking export volumes higher than Ireland. Exports to France and Hong Kong, were down 15% and 48% respectively. Shipments to the Philippines nearly doubled in March, to 550 tonnes.  

The volume of imported beef was down 8% year-on- year in March to 23,500 tonnes.  The value of UK beef imports during March was 4% lower compared to last year, supported by a 4% rise in unit prices. March shipments from the UK’s largest supplier, Ireland, fell by 6% on the year to 19,300 tonnes. Imports from the Netherlands fell 45% to 900 tonnes while imports from Poland increased 9% to 1,500 tonnes.

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