Decline forecast for EU sheep
Speaking at the Outlook Conference, Paul Heyhoe, senior analyst with beef and lamb levy body Eblex, told the audience that, with a few exceptions – notably the UK, Ireland and Romania – the EU total flock was in decline and had been since the decoupling of support payments under the Common Agricultural Policy.
Heyhoe told UK exporters that they were entering a “new supply era” and that China was likely to be a game-changer. He said New Zealand, a major supplier to the UK market, had seen supplies drop and imports to the UK were likely to be lower again this year.
He said: “This follows the decline in the New Zealand lamb crop for 2013, with its forecast export slaughter down 7% on the previous season. With the continued rise in Chinese demand, it is possible an even greater percentage of New Zealand exports will be sent there, diverting volumes away from the UK and Europe.”
UK sheepmeat exports are expected to be lower than the previous year, partly due to a strong performance in 2013. However lower imports from New Zealand were also likely to lead to higher domestic demand, limiting export availablity further, Heyhoe added.