Ireland accounted for 75pc of Britain's beef imports in November

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Irish beef accounted for 75pc of Britain's beef imports in November, according to the latest trade statistics in the UK.

The UK imported 24,600t of fresh/frozen beef in November, 6pc lower year on year and around 1,000t less than in October.

However, imports from Ireland were 18,600t, 1pc higher than last November and constituted 75pc of total imports, up from 70pc a year ago.

According to AHDB Analyst Duncan Wyatt, this increase in market share was also due to drops in volumes from other markets.

Imports from Poland were 18pc lower year on year at 1,900t. German volumes also fell by 40pc to 500t.

Within the overall total, fresh beef imports were 10pc lower year-on-year while frozen shipments were 5pc higher.

"This continues a trend seen throughout 2018.

"In fact, in the year to date, beef imports are 5pc higher at 264,000 tonnes, due to the marked increase in imports of frozen beef," Mr Wyatt said.

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"The growth has particularly come from Irish boneless product.

In total, 20pc more frozen product has arrived in the year to November. "Although imports of frozen beef have generally been rising in recent years, this increase is thought to be in preparation for Brexit. Imports of fresh beef are down 1pc year on year," he said.

Exports of beef to the UK increased by 4pc in 2018 with lower beef supplies in the UK leading to increased demand for imports. Demand from the retail sector was stable.

The foodservice sector was more challenging, as Irish beef under pressure from more competitively priced imports from Eastern Europe.

Irish beef, however, was able to grow its presence in the higher end of the foodservice sector.

Overall, UK beef consumption decreased by 2pc in 2018, as a result of continued price inflation of over 3% and dietary lifestyle decisions.

Manufacturers here are reporting that finished goods are taking up most cold storage space as stockpiles hit a six-month high across the UK in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed a reading of 54.2 last month, higher than the 53.6 recorded in November - making it a six-month high.

A figure above 50 indicates growth and economists were expecting a reading of 52.5 in December.

Businesses importing goods from the EU will face severe disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. According to the IHS, manufacturers are building up safety stocks to mitigate the potential upheaval.

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