The volume of Irish sheepmeat exported to the UK has jumped 25.5% during the first three months of 2016, recent figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

Between January and March 2016, 1,500t of Irish sheepmeat was shipped to the UK.

Bord Bia figures shows that the UK was the second largest purchaser of Irish product in 2015, accounting for 28% of Irish sheepmeat export volumes.

The LMC reports that the volume of sheepmeat imported from EU countries declined by 2.7% during the first quarter, as UK buyers are importing more from New Zealand.

Sheepmeat shipments from non EU sources accounted for 92.5% of total sheepmeat imports during the 2016 period, it shows, while imports from New Zealand have increased 4% year-on-year.

New Zealand now accounts for 90% of the non-EU sheepmeat imports into the UK, an increase from the year earlier when deliveries to the UK accounted for 84% of the total non EU supplies.

UK sheepmeat exports

On another potentially positive note for Irish farmers, the LMC indicates that the volume of UK sheepmeat shipped to France has declined during the first three months of 2016.

A fall in the volume of sheepmeat exported from the UK to France could play into Irish processors hands, freeing up more of the market for Irish sheepmeat exports.

Last year, France was the largest purchaser of Irish sheepmeat, accounting for 35% of Irish export sales, according to Bord Bia.

And, during the first three months of the year, the volume of sheepmeat exported from the UK to France declined by 8%.

However, despite the decline in exports volumes, the LMC says France remains the biggest export market for UK origin sheepmeat with 9,177t exported during the first quarter of 2016.