UK lamb exports are back to 2019 levels
According to the latest export statistics from HMRC, strong figures for June mean that the value of UK lamb exports has recovered to similar levels to 2019, following Coronavirus-related disruption earlier in the year.
The news is encouraging according to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), as exports of Welsh Lamb are an important contributor to the sheep industry. Normally, between 35-40% of Wales’s annual lamb production is consumed overseas, with countries in Europe and beyond providing a range of premium markets and an important outlet for cuts which are less favoured by the UK domestic consumer.
UK lamb exports in June stood at 7,150 tonnes, 2.9% higher than the same month last year. For the first half of 2020, the volume of exports totalled 38,570 tonnes, down by 13.3%, largely due to the disruption to foodservice business during COVID-19 lockdowns in the spring. However, in terms of value, lamb exports during the year to date have now exceeded last year, being worth £191.1 million (€213 million) compared to £187.4 million (€209.4 million) for the first half of 2019.
In June, there were strong export figures to a variety of countries, including France, Italy and Switzerland as well as a number of markets further afield such as Canada, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
According to HCC’s Export Development Executive Deanna Jones, the figures represent a solid comeback following disruption earlier in the year after hotels and restaurants were forced to close. “In many countries, the foodservice sector is an important consumer of Welsh Lamb. We responded by focusing more on social media advertising and the retail sector, such as French-language recipe videos and marketing with supermarkets in Italy. The trade statistics for Italy are particularly pleasing,” she said, “Not only did we see strong figures for June, but overall more lamb has been exported there in the first six months of 2020 than the same period in 2019.”
Deanna Jones noted the continuing growth in the lamb trade in some countries outside Europe which have been targeted for strategic investment by HCC over the past three years through trade visits, a presence at major food shows and other market development initiatives.
“The fear with any major trade disruption, such as we have seen this year, is that progress that was being made in smaller but growing markets might stall. However there has been continued significant growth in lamb exports to Canada, Hong Kong, and several countries in the Middle East”, she added.
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