UK beef trade picks up in June, reversing previous lag

Data from the AHDB finds that UK beef exports in June are now greater than the same period in 2020.
calendar icon 26 August 2021
clock icon 2 minute read


According to the latest data from HMRC, UK exports of fresh and frozen beef lifted 4% in June when compared to the same month in a year ago. UK beef exports climbed 13% on the previous month, totalling 9,700 tonnes in June.

Exports to France saw the largest increase year-on-year, up 350 tonnes to total 1,300 tonnes for the month. Some exporters now find it easier to export to France, and ship onwards from there, especially if a single load has several planned destinations. This likely explains increases in volumes to France for all meats, since 1 January. Shipments to Ireland and Hong Kong also climbed, lifting 330 tonnes and 250 tonnes respectively.

Monthly export volumes to both EU and non-EU countries have been on an upward trend since January. However, in June total exports to EU countries were still below year-earlier levels, although only 3% lower than the same month last year. Meanwhile shipments to non-EU countries have grown year-on-year, now a substantial 24% higher compared to the same point last year.

In the year to date the UK has exported 45,300 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef, 25% less than at the same point in 2020.


UK imports of fresh and frozen beef also grew in June, lifting 9% year-on-year to total 20,900 tonnes. This is an increase of 24% on the previous month. Imports from Ireland grew most notably, lifting 600 tonnes on the same month in 2020.

Imports from Uruguay (430 tonnes) and Poland (400 tonnes) also lifted, although shipments from these destinations remain a small share of total beef imports.

Domestic beef production has been running below year earlier levels, with tighter cattle supplies and relatively stable carcase weights driving this decline. Lower production, coupled with the re-opening of foodservices could see demand for imported beef lift, as consumers move toward out of home eating again. Particularly high domestic prices seen at present could further contribute to this, with product on the continent more price competitive.

In the year to date the UK has imported 100,000 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef, 10% less than at the same point in 2020.

Words: Bethan Wilkins and Bronwyn Magee 

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