UK sheepmeat exports have increased by 44.8% (1,850t) from 4,130t in January 2022, the latest data from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) shows.

Volumes have fallen on the month but grown on the year as export volumes hit just under 6,000t for January 2023. There has been a total fall of 1,633t (21.5%) from December’s levels.

Exports month-on-month fell to France by 725t (20.4%), Germany by 169t (13.1%) and Belgium by 136t (19%).

However on the year, exports to France have increased 858t (43.4%), with an uptick of 400t to Germany (55.5%), and 115t to Belgium.

Fresh lamb carcasses made up 82% (4,901t) of total exports in January, with a fall of 1,061t (18%) exported from December.

Other cuts such as fresh short forequarters and chines have seen declines from December, down 163t (47%) and 179t (55.6%) respectively. However, on the year, lamb carcass exports have risen by 1,370t (38.8%).

Sheepmeat imports

Overall, AHDB figures show that levels of sheepmeat imports have very marginally fallen to 2,370t for January, a small decline from December’s levels.

This marginal change in volumes resulted from a fall of nearly 180t (20.5%) from Ireland, and an increase of 191t (30.8%) imported from New Zealand, the levy board said.

According to the AHDB, looking at year-on-year volumes, a “substantial” overall decline of nearly 2,000t (45.6%) from January 2022 can be seen.

It attributes the vast majority of this decline to falling imports from New Zealand, down 1,260t (60.9%) from January 2022.

The drop in volume imported from New Zealand was most prevalent in the autumn of 2022, with subsequent lower import volumes remaining relatively equal. Similar trends are seen with Australian imports, down 838t (55.5%) for the same time period.

Looking at imports from a product perspective, there have been large drops in some categories year-on-year.

From January 2022, there has been a decline of 727t for frozen boneless lamb meat, with a fall of 713t for frozen sheep legs. Both fresh and frozen sheep meat (excluding lamb) has seen falls of 235t and 204t on the year too.