Trade issues still worrying for the UK
Self-sufficiency on meat is a hot topic nowadays in the United Kingdom as Brexit is just 36 days away. The impact of a no-deal Brexit is going to be felt hard by the consumers and meat industry representatives, argue AHDB and IMTA. "We know roughly what the certificates will look like; what TRQ admin will be; rates of vet checks for EU-GB imports or which health & ID marks to use", complains IMTA in a Twitter post. At the same time, officials from AHB are talking about low self-sufficiency on some products, such as pork or beef. "Self-sufficiency is important in regards to EU exit for two main reasons. Firstly, under no-deal, what impact will import tariffs have on trade and domestic prices? Secondly, it may affect the industry’s ability to feed the nation and to produce the kind of products that we love to eat. For beef and pig meat we are net importers, with self-sufficiency levels of 75-80% and 60% respectively," mentioned AHDB Head of Market Specialists, Chris Gooderham.
At the same time, the current production levels on sheepmeat give the impression that the UK is 100% self-sufficient. "Unfortunately, things are never quite so simple. The key challenges for lamb are:
- Carcase balance – UK consumers demand legs of lamb, and we do not have enough domestic production to satisfy that demand. So we import legs, and export whole or half carcases.
- Seasonality - UK production of lamb is very much focused towards the end of the year, peaking in October. However, demand is considerably flatter through the year, with spikes seen around Easter and Christmas.
- The imbalance of trade with the EU - Over 90% of exports are to the EU, but only around 25% of imports come from the EU, meaning the no-deal EU exit risk is on exports and not so much on imports.
This mean simply diverting home-grown lamb to satisfy domestic demand is not straight-forward. No-deal tariffs risk making UK lamb exports to the EU uncompetitive. Under such a scenario the industry will be looking for alternative outlets either domestically or further afield,", argues Mr Gooderham.
The current situation on Brexit is worrying for both parts involved in the process as well for major suppliers of meat in the EU such as New Zealand, Brazil, Thailand or Australia.