Irish exports of beef and veal to the UK in May 2015 were back 350t on the previous May (2014) after being up on the year earlier, AHDB the organisation for the English beef and sheep industry says.

Overall, beef imports to the UK were up 670t in May compared with the same month in 2014 to 20,500t, it says.

Despite an increase in shipments from some other Member States, such as the Netherlands, Poland and Germany, the overall increase in product coming into the UK was at its lowest level for the first six months of the year, despite the advantageous exchange rate, AHDB says.

AHDB says that the current exchange rate is having an effect on competitiveness of the UK to EU exporters.

While only 2% up on the year in Sterling terms, the average unit value in euro terms was up 12% and consequently the UK market remains very attractive to other Member States, it says.

Shipments from outside the EU are led by Australia, as the quota year draws to a close volumes were 30% back on the year, it says.

UK beef exports

Exports of beef from the UK were down 21% compared to May 2014 at 7,870t, it says.

Beef shipments to Ireland were also back year-on-year but still amounted to well over a third of all trade, it says.

According to AHDB, the commodity nature of the cow beef trade against the backdrop of the challenging exchange rate scenario meant that trade onto the Continent was difficult again.

Shipments to the Netherlands and to Belgium were back by half and 40%, respectively it says.

Trade to France and Italy performed better, with shipments to France stable year-on-year, and to Italy back just 3%, AHDB says.

A shift from exports of carcases, which predominantly make up a high share of trade to the Netherlands and Belgium, to higher value boneless cuts, which dominate trade with Italy and France is making up this mixed picture of beef exports, it says.

Looking at the impact the exchange rate is having on trade, AHDB says that the average unit price in Euro terms was up 21% on the year, while returns in Sterling terms were up 10%.

Beef exports to Hong Kong were back 30% year-on-year due to difficulties in trade, it says.