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February meat exports to the EU 42% down on 2020 levels

14th Apr 2021 / By Charlie Dewhirst

Trade figures published on Tuesday show that UK exports to the EU have recovered from the slump in January, but volumes remain well below 2020 levels.

Total exports from the UK to EU were up 47% on the previous month after a record drop of 42% in January.

Exports of all food and live animals recovered to £700m in February after dropping to £400m in the first month of 2021. However, the UK exported £900m of goods in these categories in February 2020, indicating that exports are still down 29% since leaving the EU.

Live pig exports are still not possible due to the lack of border infrastructure at the Channel ports – a situation that the NPA is working with other partners to resolve.

The data for meat and meat preparations showed an even larger deficit, with exports to the EU down 42% on the previous year:

  • Feb 2019: £115m
  • Feb 2020: £113m
  • Feb 2021: £66m

(Export value to the EU of Meat and Meat Preparations, Office of National Statistics, 13 April 2021)

In January, overall pig meat (including offal) shipments fell by nearly a half compared with a year ago to only 15,600 tonnes. This was driven overwhelmingly by a fall in EU exports, which amounted to just 2,500 tonnes, a reduction of 13,000 tonnes (-84%) year on year.

NPA Senior Policy Adviser, Charlie Dewhirst, commented: “Obviously it’s encouraging to see exports recover from the dire situation in January but we are still a long way short of previous trade numbers.

"The pandemic will still be affecting export opportunities but there is plenty more work to do to tackle the systemic problems. We need to improve and modernise our trading processes with the EU to help the pig sector recapture the export market and sell our world class produce on the Continent.”