Chinese sheepmeat imports in the first nine months of 2015 have fallen 22%, following the trend that began in the second half of 2014, according to AHDB.

The organisation for the English beef and sheep industry (AHDB) has said that large supplies of sheepmeat in China have led to falling import demand.

Total volumes in the first nine months of 2015 stood at 177,400t,  down 22% year-on-year, AHDB stated.

Imports of sheepmeat to China had been increasing in previous years and according to AHDB this, coupled with high levels of domestic production so far this year, has led to large stocks in cold storage within China, causing prices to fall.

Demand for sheepmeat within China has also declined following a government austerity drive encouraging officials to cut down on extravagant spending, while the slowing growth of the economy has also helped to reduce demand, AHDB has stated.

The organisation stated that import volumes have been consistently lower, compared to the previous year for the last 14 months, with the sharpest falls seen in the first six months of the year when volumes were down by almost a quarter.

In the third quarter shipments of sheepmeat were only down by 16%, AHDB stated.

Volumes coming from all major suppliers fell during the period, with shipments from New Zealand, the largest supplier, falling by 18%. Imports from Australia were down 24%, while shipments from Uruguay declined by 77%, according to AHDB.

The average unit value of shipments to China has fallen by 15% in the period, which has led the overall value of Chinese sheepmeat imports to fall to 3.8 billion yuan, which AHDB states is 34% lower than the previous year.