New figures show UK's huge dependence on Ireland for beef
But imports from South American and New Zealand increase
New figures from Northern Ireland's Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), show how dependant the UK is on Irish beef, but that it has in 2018 increased the level of beef imports from countries outside the EU including South America and New Zealand.
The figures show that the UK remains a net importer of beef with 212,337t imported during the first nine months of 2018 while 80,810t of beef products were exported.
Beef imports during the 2018 period were 6.6pc higher than the same period in 2017 during, which UK beef imports totalled 199,186t.
This was the second consecutive year in which the level of beef imports in the UK recorded a strong increase and was the highest level of import recorded in the last decade.
The EU is the biggest source of beef imports for the UK market and accounted for 94pc of all beef imports during the first nine months of 2018.
Beef imports from the EU totalled 200,095t during the 2018 period with imports from the Republic of Ireland accounting for 76pc of this at 151,469t.
The LMC figures also show that this is a similar proportion to previous years and the Republic of Ireland is also the biggest export destination for UK beef at 27,173t during the first nine months of 2018 and with some of the major plants having processing operations in both jurisdictions a proportion of this import/export trade is due to companies transferring product between sites.
The Netherlands and Poland are the next biggest suppliers of beef imports to the UK with each accounting for 7pc of UK beef imports from the EU during the first nine months of 2018 while Germany accounted for a further 4pc . These proportions are similar to previous years.