UK beef imports increase

Between January and October UK beef imports were recorded at 223.4 thousand tonnes, according to the latest data from HMRC. In comparison to the same period last year, this is an increase of 4% (9 thousand tonnes). Total UK beef imports during October were 24.6 thousand tonnes, 9% (2 thousand tonnes) more than the same month last year.

Beef imports from Ireland remained steady in the month at 17 thousand tonnes while UK imports from the Netherlands recorded a year-on-year rise of 22% (363 tonnes), to 2 thousand tonnes. Poland has been recording year-on-year rises each month since November 2016. In October this year UK beef imports from Poland totalled 1.3 thousand tonnes, 34% (331 tonnes) more than 2016. Poland now competes with some South American beef in the food service sector in the UK. Conditions in Poland mean there is a large amount of feed available and therefore production is expected to remain strong.

UK beef imports

UK beef exports in the year-to October were recorded at 86.3 thousand tonnes, 4% (4 thousand tonnes) behind year earlier levels. During October, UK beef exports stood at 9.6 thousand tonnes, 2% higher than the same month last year. Exports to both Ireland and the Netherlands recorded significant rises to total 3.1 thousand tonnes and 2.6 thousand tonnes respectively. Declines were recorded in several of the smaller UK beef export destinations.

UK beef production between January and October was slightly behind year earlier levels with demand at a similar level throughout 2017 compared to 2016. Therefore a rise in imports is perhaps not surprising. The key Christmas period is approaching, and estimated slaughterings suggest that domestic production maybe lower than last year, so it could be expected that higher year-on-year imports may be required to balance demand.

Rebecca Oborne AHDB