Ireland’s largest sheepmeat market sees import volumes drop

Ireland’s largest sheepmeat market – France has posted a reduction in imports during the first three months of the year.

The French market is the main destination for Irish sheepmeat exports, accounting for 35% of Irish exports in 2015, valued at over €80m by Bord Bia.

Between January and March of this year, imports into France dropped by 7% on last years levels, figures from the AHDB (the organisation for English beef and lamb) show.

However, despite the 7% fall in imports, the AHDB shows that the volume of sheepmeat Irish sheepmeat imported by France only fell slightly, down 1% on the first quarter in 2015.

And, Irish exports tend to be higher value chilled cuts, it says, with chilled lamb carcasses accounting for less than 35% of total French imports. This figure is closer to 80% for UK supplies.

According to the AHDB, the UK has been worst affected by the fall in French imports, with UK shipments down 14% in the first quarter on the same time in 2015.

It also shows that New Zealand imports dropped during the first three months of the year, back 17% year-on-year.

But, the volume imported from Spain in the first quarter is up almost 40% in the first quarter, the AHDB reports, giving it a 12% share of the market in the first quarter of 2016.

However, despite the fall in the volume imported, the French import price has generally moved up by 4% per annum since 2009.

EU sheepmeat imports set to decline

The volume of sheepmeat imported into the EU during the first two months of the year was up 19%, figures from the AHDB show.

In January and March, EU importers bought 27,800t of sheepmeat, with the majority of this coming from the Southern Hemisphere.

New Zealand was the main source of this product, with Kiwi sheepmeat exports to the EU jumping by 29%. The volume of sheepmeat imported from Australia declined by 44% in the first two months of the year.

And, the AHDB suggests that some of the Australian quota will go unused in 2016, due to the lower volume exported to date.