Pre-pandemic trends return to UK beef trade - AHDB

Ireland, France, and the Netherlands remain the key recipients
calendar icon 28 November 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

UK beef exports continued to ease month-on-month in September, with shipments totalling 11,900 tonnes, according to AHDB analyst Freya Shuttleworth. Volume includes fresh and frozen beef, processed beef and offal.

However, volumes were up 7% year-on-year, bringing the year-to-date volume of exported beef to 119,600 tonnes. This is a 23% increase compared to the same period last year, but 7% behind the equivalent pre-Brexit volumes of 2020.

For the first 9 months of 2022, shipments to the EU grew 46% year-on-year to total 97,200 tonnes. Ireland, France, and the Netherlands remained the key recipients. Volumes shipped to other key nations have seen mixed movement for the year-to-date. Hong Kong has seen the largest year-on-year decline in volume terms (-5,000 tonnes) followed closely by the Philippines (-3,400 tonnes), while the US saw a more marginal decline (-500 tonnes). South African shipments have also slipped. On the other hand, shipments to Japan have grown by 1,400 tonnes year-on-year, with shipments to Canada, China and Ghana also growing.

Although total export volumes are not at levels seen in 2019-2020, shipments are closer to historic levels. Looking at products, export volumes of fresh beef have increased 56% year-on-year to total 64,100 tonnes, the second highest volume of fresh product in the last 5 years. Frozen product has declined 6% year-on-year to 29,100 tonnes. Volumes of processed beef (inc. corned beef) have totalled 6,200 tonnes in 2022 so far, a 56% increase year-on-year. However, exports of offal fell 5% compared to 2021, and remain notably below historic volumes.

UK imports of beef have remained flat month-on-month in September, with volumes totalling 24,400 tonnes. However, this marked a 28% decrease compared to the same month last year. This brings the year-to-date (Jan-Sep) volume to 222,400 tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 5%.

The EU and Brazil have provided the largest volumes at 200,000 tonnes (+5%) and 16,400 tonnes (+2%) respectively. However, there have been mixed movements among individual EU suppliers. Irish shipments have decreased by 3% (4,000 tonnes), with volumes also falling from other smaller suppliers like the Netherlands and Spain. However, growth in shipments from other EU countries such as Germany in particular (+9,000 tonnes) and Poland (+1,900 tonnes) have outweighed losses elsewhere.

Fresh beef is the only product category to see lower imports vs 2021 for the year so far, at 105,200 tonnes (-9%). This is the lowest volume of fresh product imported for Jan-Sep in the last 5 years, in contrast to exports. Volumes of frozen, processed (including corned beef) and offal have all posted growth year-on-year. The frozen and offal categories show the second highest volumes for the past 5 years increasing year-on-year by 18% to 66,300 tonnes and 46% to 13,000 tonnes respectively.

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