UK sheepmeat trade balance strong in first quarter


The UK exported 6,600 tonnes of fresh/frozen mutton in March, according to HMRC data. This is nearly 300 tons more than in February, and more than 400 tons more than last March (+7%). This brings the total so far to 17,000 tonnes, 19% more than at the same time in 2021.

Exports have been weak in the first months of 2021 as exporters grapple with new trade deals and costs as a result of Brexit. Volumes had more or less recovered in April when high UK lamb prices reduced their competitiveness on the Continent, again reducing exports. This year however, UK lambs remain discounted compared to those in France and Germany, so exports can be expected to benefit. The increase in domestic production will not have hurt export volumes either.exports being strongly correlated to the supply of lambs.

Of the 17,000 tonnes exported to date, 3,200 tonnes went to France (+12%), 1,300 tonnes to Germany (+27%) and 750 tonnes to Belgium (+75%). These higher volumes, at a higher average price, meant their value was over £110m, 31% more than a year ago.

On the import side, volumes fell in March to 7,000 tonnes. This is 600 tons, 8% less than in March 2021. A reduction of 2,000 tons from New Zealand, which shipped 4,400 tons, was not quite offset by increases coming Besides. Irish volumes amounted to 950 tonnes (+500%) and Australian volumes to 1,400 tonnes (+146%). It should be noted that the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement is not yet in force and is therefore not responsible for the increase in trade seen so far.

Since the beginning of the year, sheepmeat imports have amounted to 16,000 tonnes, 12% more than a year ago. Exports were higher than imports. This is increasingly common as domestic production exceeds demand on what could become a year-round basis, rather than just in the fall.


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