Sheep meat imports up; beef imports down

Sheepmeat imports surged to 7,700t in December – a jump of 27% compared with the year before, due to considerably cheaper import prices.

The increase was driven by a 35% rise in shipments from New Zealand, with unit values down by 22% on the year, said a report by AHDB Meat Services. However, greater domestic availability also led to a 13% rise in exports, with increased trade to non-EU markets in particular.

Beef imports declined by 12%, year-on-year, to 20,500t. “Shipments from Ireland declined 12%, as supplies continued to be tight, and volumes from the Netherlands were back almost a third,” said the report. Exports were 6% behind last year, at 10,500t. “For the full year, volumes were down 16%, affected by domestic availability and high prices.”

In the pig sector, imports were lower than last year, mainly due to a third fewer Danish imports. But exports continued to make strong progress, with sales for the whole of 2012 up by 7%, to the highest level since 2000. “China was again the key growth market in December, taking the second largest volume of UK exports for the second consecutive month.”

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