The UK’s share of the French sheep meat market fell by 6% during the first quarter of 2009, according to latest figures from AHDB meat services.

Although France imported more meat during the first three months, tight supplies meant the UK’s share of the French import market fell from 49% to 43% (see below). In contrast, France imported more sheep meat from New Zealand and the Irish Republic.

But both countries, as well as Spain, also face domestic products shortages which, combined with a 6% fall in France’s domestic production, could see total supplies available for consumption fall by around 4% in 2009.

UK clean sheep slaughterings during April totalled 1.1m head, 4% lower than the same month last year. Over the four months to April 2009, clean sheep slaughterings in England and Wales were down 13% on the year. The annual decline in Scotland was just 2%.

French sheep meat imports, Jan-Mar

 000 tonnes 2007 2008 2009
 Total 32.6 31.4 32.5
 UK 13.4 15.2 13.9
 New Zealand 9.3 8.5 9.5
 Irish Republic 4.1 4.0 4.6
 Source: AHDB meat services