UK exports of beef and lamb rose significantly during the first two-thirds of 2019, with imports also falling, according to analysis by Quality Meat Scotland.
Stuart Ashworth, QMS director of economic services, said despite the confusion generated by Brexit, it had been a positive period for the UK’s red meat exporters, which had successfully grown volumes.
According to official statistics from HMRC, exports of fresh and frozen beef saw an increase of 18% from January to August this year, with sheepmeat exports up 20% year-on-year.
Mr Ashworth said a relatively favourable exchange rate was part of the explanation for the rise in volumes, but another factor was tough trading conditions in the domestic marketplace, which had driven processors to seek alternative markets.
The domestic market was being influenced by an underlying lack of confidence in the consumer environment, with shoppers generally more cautious about spending and switching from high-value to lower-value cuts, he explained.
It was also being influenced by “noise” around the effect of red meat consumption on health and the environment.