Mlc figures look ok for sheepmeat

SHEEPMEAT EXPORTS in 2004 were slightly down on the year, but otherwise coped well in a difficult market-place, according to new figures from the Meat and Livestock Commission. Total tonnage slipped 3000t to just under 73,000t. But shipments to France, which takes about 75% of British sheepmeat exports, grew fractionally.

MLC economist Jane Connor said this was encouraging given tough trading conditions. “We did well to maintain our biggest market. Economic malaise in France and reduced consumer spending in general meant household purchases were down.”

British exporters were working hard to add value to meat sent into Continental Europe, she added. Volumes of higher value cuts, such as legs and shoulders, were growing compared with entire carcasses, which still accounted for most of the trade.

Total sheepmeat exports were worth about 190m last year, of which cuts accounted for about 27m, almost doubling the value five years ago.

“In terms of pounds per tonne, the value of these cuts is about 14% higher than carcasses,” said Mrs Connor.