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British lamb exports to France fell sharply in the summer as a result of French farmer protests.

Volumes were hit when French supermarkets reduced their non-French produce after dramatic protests against low farmgate prices and cheap imports.

See more: French farmers spray straw on cars in prices protest 

France is the UK’s biggest lamb export market, buying about 50% of all exports.

Meat processor Dunbia, which processes more than one million lambs a year from sites across the UK, said its lamb exports to France fell by about 20% year-on-year.

Barrie Jones, group lamb commercial manager at Dunbia, said exports to France were still challenging while the French government remained under pressure to promote home-grown produce.

However, he said demand in the UK was up on last year, as retailers here were demanding more British in-season lamb.

AHDB Beef and Lamb export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier said the 20% drop in lamb exports to France was a “fair assumption”.

However, this had been only at the height of the protests and lamb exports were coming back to normal.

He said protests had hit exports before, but France did not produce enough lamb to meet its demand.