Market jitters hit sheep exports

By FWi staff

EXPORTERS are set for a tough time over the next few months as the international meat market becomes increasingly jittery.

First to feel the chill is the whole ewe carcass trade with France, after the French authorities decision not to renew their bilateral agreement with the UK.

This allowed ewe carcasses to be exported whole to specified cutting plants in France since October 1998.

Any mutton export to France will now have to be based on split carcasses, but this adds cost – an extra 1.50 a carcass – and customers often consider the product devalued.

It is not only mutton markets that are suffering.

Some lamb products may also be threatened if countries move to drop imported sheepmeat from their order books.

Spain has apparently stopped an order of 35,000 Welsh hill lambs from a Welsh processor because of fears of a link between BSE and scrapie.

Ironically, prime export lamb markets have taken a boost and exporters are noting an upturn in trade volumes, particularly to France.

But most feel the market is precariously balanced.

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