Higher UK beef imports despite lower Irish supplies

Imports of beef to the UK were up 1,900t in March, compared with the same month in 2014, to 23,200t, according to EBLEX.

Despite this, it says imports from Ireland remained relatively stable at 16,100t, adding evidence that supplies there are tightening.

Imports from other EU member states showed an increase, compared to March 2014.

According to EBLEX this was due to higher availability since the Russian ban on imports and a favourable exchange rate.

As further evidence of the effect of the exchange rate, in euro terms, unit prices increased by approximately €1,200/t, making the UK market very attractive to exporters.

Even in sterling terms, EBLEX says unit prices increased by £300/t.

UK exports of beef for March stood at 8,100t, down 6%, compared to March 2014.

Exports to Ireland were up by a quarter, although it says some of this product may have been sent to Ireland for further processing and then re-exported.

With the exception of Italy and France, UK beef exports to other EU countries were more challenging in March, according to EBLEX.

For example, it says shipments to the Netherlands and Belgium were down by 42% and 37% respectively.

According to EBLEX this mixed picture is partly due to a shift from exports of carcases, which make up a high share of exports to the Netherlands and Belgium, to higher-value boneless cuts, which dominate trade with Italy and France.

It says outside the EU, Hong Kong appears to be becoming increasingly important, with exports more than quadrupling compared with last March.

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