New figures show UK's huge dependence on Ireland for beef

But imports from South American and New Zealand increase

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

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.

Breakdown of UK beef imports, January - September 2018. Source: LMC
Breakdown of UK beef imports, January - September 2018. Source: LMC

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.

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The UK also imports small volumes of beef from non-EU countries with 12,243t of beef imported during the first nine months of 2018.

While this was a 24pc increase from the corresponding period in 2017 when 9,906t of beef were imported from non-EU sources it is well below the same period in 2016 when 16,567t of beef were imported. Imports from non EU sources accounted for 5.7pc of total beef imports during the first nine months of 2018.

Increased Third World Imports

However, during 2018 there were increases in the volume of beef imported by the UK from Uruguay, Brazil, New Zealand, Argentina and Botswana when compared to the same period in 2017. The volumes involved however remain very small.

Meanwhile there have been declines in the volume of beef imported from Australia and Namibia during the 2018 period.

UK fresh/chilled beef imports totalled 140,156t during the first nine months of 2018 and  these accounted for 66pc of total UK beef imports.

The volume of fresh/chilled beef imported by the UK during the 2018 period was unchanged from year earlier levels. The largest majority of this fresh/chilled beef imported by the UK comes from the EU.

Frozen beef imports totalled 72,181 tonnes during the period January-September 2018 and this accounted for 34pc of total UK beef imports.

In the same period in 2017 UK frozen beef imports totalled 57,318t which accounts for a 26pc increase year on year however the volumes involved remain relatively low. Most frozen beef products imported by the UK come from non-EU markets.

Online Editors


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