This is according to analysis of HMRC data detailing UK red meat export performance between January and June of this year, which will feature in the August 2023 Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Market Bulletin.
The total volume of sheep meat exported by the UK tallied to 43,400 tonnes, a 16% year-on-year rise. Over the same period, the value of exports was worth nearly £280m, a 13% year-on-year rise.
The data also showed that 94% of sheep meat exported by the UK was sold to EU member states. France and Germany in particular saw large volume increases, importing an additional 2,500 tonnes and 1,700 tonnes respectively when compared with 2022.
Meanwhile, imports of sheep meat into the UK decreased by 31% year-on-year, with just 28,000 tones arriving in the UK during the first half of 2023. New Zealand accounted for almost 60% of sheep meat imported into the UK.
Glesni Phillips, HCC’s market intelligence, analysis and business insight executive, said that with supply in the UK expected to remain high during the second half of the year, this export trend should continue.
“This occurred despite lamb production on the UK market being less than one per cent higher than year-earlier levels,” said Phillips.
“It would seem that this decrease reflects changes to global consumer demand that have impacted on UK import trends. Much of the product from New Zealand and Australia has been shipped into China.”
Beef and pork saw the opposite effect however, with export volumes down 22% and 23% year-on-year respectively.
“[Beef} exports are down as much on the year due to subdued demand from consumers in Europe and because UK cattle prices have been strong, and therefore not as competitive on the global trading landscape,” Phillips explained.
“Pork exports are subdued due to the continued contraction of the UK pig herd as cost of production values rocketed for UK producers. This is also highlighted in the UK Government figures, which indicate pork production during the six-month period was down 13% on the year at 457,200 tonnes.”