22 May 1998

Figures show sharp fall in beef imports

BEEF imports fell sharply in February, according to latest Intrastat figures.

Imports from other EU countries fell by 9% compared with 12 months ago, from 6488t to 5872t. But Irish imports continued to rise, hitting 4725t, up almost a quarter year on year and accounting for 80% of the total.

The Irish presence is due to the countrys deseasonalisation premium, which encourages producers to market in the first quarter of the year. That has now finished, so fewer animals will be coming for slaughter, says the MLCs Jane Connor.

Cumulative EU imports for the first two months of the year stand at 12095t, a fall of almost 5%. There are fewer beasts about, and better management of licenses for export refunds by the commission has allowed other EU countries to sell further afield.

Customs and Excise data for non-EU beef imports for January-March are 10,036t, 7.6% lower than last year. "But volumes are still high compared with two to three years ago," she adds. Favourable currency rates allow such countries as Australia and Botswana to view the UK as an established market. &#42