12 December 1997

Ireland takes lions share of beef imports

UK BEEF imports are up 23% this year with Ireland being the biggest supplier, according to the Meat and Livestock Commission.

And, with no signs of the £ weakening, the trend looks set to continue into next year, an MLC official added. Irish beef is currently 14% cheaper than its UK-produced equivalent.

For the first eight months this year, 31,384t of beef was imported from Ireland – a 78% increase on the year.

The Netherlands supplied 10,687t – again a 78% increase on the same period in 1996, with Germany upping its beef exports to the UK by 242% to 5596t.

A 52% drop in imports from France was recorded, with the volume down to 2699t. With small amounts from other EU countries, a total of 52,971t was imported to the UK from the EU.

Another 40,168t was imported from Third countries, with the bulk from Uruguay, Argentina and Australia.

While MLC attributes the increase in imports mostly to the strength of the £, another factor is the domestic shortfall that has resulted from the two million cattle culled in BSE schemes.

Catherine Hughes