Meat & Livestock News

Sheep Meat in the EU: A 2023 Analysis

The sheep meat landscape in the European Union has witnessed notable shifts during the initial months of 2023. Data reveals that prominent producers, Spain and France, have seen their outputs dip by 5% when juxtaposed with the figures from the prior year.

Conversely, nations like Greece, Ireland, and Italy have bucked the trend, registering growths of 2%, 7%, and 5% respectively.

Cumulatively, these five countries churned out 175,000 Mt of sheep meat, marking a slight contraction of 1.3% from the previous year.

A closer examination of the numbers from individual nations paints a clearer picture. Spain, for instance, produced 57,400 tonnes in the year’s first half, reflecting a 5% drop from its 2022 figures. France’s output was pegged at 40,600 tonnes.

Despite grappling with a 6% reduction in its processing metrics, Greece managed to clock in nearly 27,000 tonnes, hinting at an uptick in carcase weights.

This is particularly evident during April, aligning with the nation’s Easter festivities centred around lamb. Meanwhile, Ireland and Italy also showcased encouraging numbers, with the former producing 34,300 tonnes and the latter 15,250 tonnes.

The EU has seen a mixed bag of trends on the pricing front.

The benchmark EU sheep meat price has decreased since April, settling at 615p/kg as September commenced.

Interestingly, this rate is slightly higher than the previous year’s figures for the same timeframe. This ebb and flow in pricing can be attributed to an increased influx from regions outside the EU, notably New Zealand and the UK, coupled with a subdued consumer appetite.

For instance, Spain’s prices hovered around 635p in early September, while France witnessed a dip to 685p.

On the other hand, Ireland’s market showcased more resilience, with prices hovering around the 529p mark.

From a UK perspective, the evolving dynamics in the European market present a golden opportunity to amplify its export endeavours, thereby bolstering its domestic market. 

As the UK gears up to transition into a net exporter, the EU market’s relevance is poised to ascend. Projections from the European Commission suggest that the prevailing price dynamics in the EU could potentially catalyse an uptick in imports from the UK and New Zealand as 2023 unfolds.

The UK’s pricing metrics have consistently outperformed the previous year, with the rate in August being pegged at 569.5p/kg.