Coronavirus: UK beef exports suffer April slump

The latest data from HMRC shows that UK beef trade activity fell during April
The latest data from HMRC shows that UK beef trade activity fell during April

UK fresh and frozen beef exports suffered a 15 percent drop in April due to impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, figures from HMRC show.

Analysing the data, AHDB explained that exports totalled just over 8,500 tonnes last month, down 1,500 tonnes year-on-year.

Despite the April fall, exports for January-April were up nearly 3% on the year, at 42,400 tonnes, the levy board said.

During April, less beef was sent to the Netherlands (-915 tonnes), France (-365 tonnes) and Ireland (-235 tonnes) compared to the year before. Shipments to the Philippines and Italy also fell.

Hannah Clarke, AHDB livestock analyst, said it was 'unsurprising' that UK beef trade activity receded during April.

"Both imports and exports of fresh and frozen beef were down by 15 percent year-on-year," she said.

"As the first available data period fully covered by Covid-19 lockdown measures, the April figures indicate just how severely the widespread supply and demand disruption affected trade."

Beef imports for the month totalled just under 18,000 tonnes, down 3,200 tonnes on the year.

This brings imports for January-April to 80,200 tonnes, down nearly 10% on the same period in 2019.

"A 5,100 tonne fall in shipments from Ireland was the largest contributor to lower UK imports in April, followed by the Netherlands (-1,400 tonnes)," Ms Clarke said.

"Ireland’s beef industry in particular has suffered because of lockdown measures due to its heavy reliance on exports to European foodservice markets."