Beef cattle© FLPA/REX

Lamb and beef imports surged in March, as the strong pound continues to make the UK an attractive export destination.

Mutton and lamb imports totalled 15,200t, 35% higher than the year before.

See also: Beef farmers face abattoir confusion, report finds

Shipments from New Zealand were up more than 52% at 12,800t.

The latest HMRC figures underline what has been seen on supermarket shelves, with farmers angry that foreign supplies were still high when British lamb was coming into season.

Beef imports in March were also 9% higher at more than 23,000t.

Shipments from Ireland remained steady at just over 16,100t, but imports from countries such as Netherlands, Germany and Poland rose significantly.

Trade was equally challenging on the export side.

UK beef exports in March were down 6% at 8,122t, with particular drop-offs in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Lamb shipments were 23% lower at 6,512t, including a 15% drop in Britain’s biggest market, France.

Eblex’s weekly report said there was a worry the lamb export figures did not show the true picture.

“This conflicts with French data which report a significant rise in imports of sheepmeat from the UK in March,” the levy board said.