Irish beef tops UK beef imports, while we took 37% of the UK’s beef exports

Irish beef and veal dominates UK’s imports of both, accounting for 70% of the total beef and veal imports into the UK last year.

Recent figures from the AHDB show that Ireland has increased its volumes of beef and veal into the UK by 5% over the past 10 years.

Last year the UK imported 272,000t of Irish beef, valued at almost €1.1 billion, according to Bord Bia.

This makes the UK the largest market for Irish beef, as it accounted for over 57% of Irish beef exports in 2015.

According to the AHDB, there are no other Member States for which the UK market is more important, nor are imports from the global market particularly significant either.

The Netherlands is the only significant supplier into the UK, but it represents less than 5% of beef and veal exports from the Netherlands.

While the numbers are much smaller, Ireland is now the largest market for UK beef exports, accounting for 37% of UK beef exports. In 2014, the UK exported over 112,000t of beef, less than half the volumes Ireland exported to the UK in the same year.

2016 export and import performance

UK beef exports to Ireland continued the same trend as last year, as Ireland continued to be the UK’s main beef export market.

According to AHDB data, the volume of beef exported from the UK was up 46% in January compared to the same time last year.

It shows that the strong performance was largely as a result of a notable increase in volumes of fresh and chilled boneless cuts exported.

But, the total volume of beef imported into the UK is back by 18,600t (13%) this January compared to January last year.

A year ago, sterling was gaining against the euro, making Irish (and other EU) beef very competitive on the UK market, but the AHDB reports that the situation has reversed this January.

The fall in the value of Sterling compared to the euro has resulted in the volume of Irish beef shipped to the UK, with January export volumes back 20% on the same time last year.

Exchange rates

However, exports of Irish beef to the UK are heavily dependent on the exchange rates.

According to Bord Bia, a weak euro was a major benefit to Irish beef exports to the UK during 2015, with export volumes increasing by 10% on the back of a weaker euro.

However, since January, exchange rates have favoured UK beef producers with the euro strengthening against Sterling.

While Irish beef exports have yet to feel the effects of the stronger euro, if it continues to strengthen against sterling it could have a negative impact on the volume of beef exported from Ireland to the UK, as Irish beef becomes more expensive to UK buyers.