UK sheepmeat exports increased 33% in April when compared to the same month in 2021.

According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the UK exported 6,987t of sheepmeat (both fresh and frozen) in April this year, which was up 2.5% (+170t) from March and 33% (+1,700t) from the same month in 2021.

95% of UK sheepmeat heads to the EU and it has been the main driver of this year-on-year increase, the AHDB said.

The EU received 6,700t of sheepmeat in April, an increase of 45% on last year. The significant rise this year is being put down to a loss in competitiveness of UK lamb due to high prices; UK lamb is discounted compared to key producers on the continent.

However, the AHDB also said that this was supported by increased domestic production.

Increase in imports from Ireland

Imports of sheepmeat into the UK totalled 6,232t in April. This was a 11% decrease (-750t) from March, although it was an increase from last year of 43% (+1,900t).

Imports were down “significantly” in 2021 due a range of factors, the AHDB added, such as a combination of a reduced export market and difficulties with shipping (availability and cost increases).

Although New Zealand continues to dominate imports (65% in April), it is seeing a year-on-year decline.

Imports are growing from Australia, making up 19% of total imports for the month of April.

However, growth is also being driven from the EU, such as from Ireland.

The AHDB said that Ireland sent 750t of sheepmeat to the UK in April 2022, which represented an increase of almost 600t compared to last year.

Sheepmeat exports are standing above imports thus far, with year-to-date volumes at 24,400t exported (25% annual increase) vs. 22,300t imported (9% annual decrease). The AHDB said that it expects this trend to continue in 2022.