The UK is a net importer of beef, with 94% of these imports coming from the EU-27. The majority of these shipments come from Ireland. Imports from Ireland grew by 6.5% in the first four months of 2018 compared with year earlier levels and totalled 65,000 tonnes, over 70% of total UK beef imports. Total imports of fresh/frozen beef totalled 91,000 tonnes (+6%). There has been a significant increase in imports from France, up 88% when compared to the same period in 2017, to total 1,200 tonnes, this trade being supported by a strong demand for manufacturing beef in the UK, although it is still a small proportion of UK imports.
UK imports of fresh/frozen beef were much the same in April 2018 compared to a year ago, totalling 21,000 tonnes. Notably, imports from Poland increased by 7% year-on-year in April, to total 1,500 tonnes following a slower first quarter. Contrastingly, in the same period fresh/frozen imports from both the Netherlands and Germany declined, by 22% (-389 tonnes) and 32% (-327 tonnes) respectively.
Total fresh/frozen beef exports in the year up to April total 38,700 tonnes (+17%). Ireland is the biggest export market for the UK, commanding over 30% of the market share of exports. In the first four months of 2018, UK total fresh/frozen beef exports to Ireland totalled 13,500 tonnes (+33%). Industry reports suggest cattle supplies in Ireland are currently tight which could support demand for UK beef going forward.
UK exports of fresh/frozen beef for April 2018 were up 29% to total 9,300 tonnes. The UK continues to capitalise on growing consumer demand for beef in Hong Kong with exports up 90% in April 2018 compared to the previous year. Furthermore, up to April, exports to Hong Kong total 2,800 tonnes, a 22% increase year-on-year. The value of total UK fresh/frozen beef exports also increased, to total £144 million (+21%) in the first four months of 2018.