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Stackyard News Oct 08

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Concerted Action Essential to Maintain Lamb Export Gains

UK lamb exports increased by an encouraging 7% in tonnage and impressive 20% in value in the first six months of 2008 as the industry profited from both the weakness of sterling and a timely boost to marketing support in Europe, reveals EBLEX Ltd, the industry body for beef and lamb levy-payers in England. And there are excellent opportunities for further growth within both traditional and new markets.



Against a background of the continuing decline in lamb consumption in many European markets and growing pressures on consumers from the economic slowdown, however, the whole industry needs to work together to ensure the right type of lean, well-conformed lambs and effective marketing if it is to maintain the momentum of recent improvements.

This is especially important with exports accounting for around 30% of UK production and so vital to market stability during the annual early winter peak of supplies, in particular.

Making a major contribution to boosting lamb consumption in our main French market is a high profile three year EBLEX communication campaign run jointly with key international partners from this spring. With the active involvement of 26 processors, this is already reaching large numbers of consumers through the country’s main retail groups and nearly 7000 local butchers.

At the same time, export opportunities are being actively explored and developed in a range of new markets, including Cyprus, Algeria, Norway, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as well as further afield in the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean.

Increasing exports in the form of cuts rather than carcases and the better separation and marketing of offals also provide valuable development opportunities at a time when lamb supplies from other European countries are declining.

While the wide range of lamb types available across the country give the UK particular advantages in serving the diversity of export market requirements, for the greatest individual and industry value EBLEX urges producers to play their part in maximising export success by targeting their lambs to the particular markets served by their primary outlets.

Summary of Export Market Requirements

Market Key Requirement Carcase Weights
France Heavy lambs 17-21 kg
Belgium Heavy, well-conformed lambs 18-22 kg
Italy Light and medium lambs  7-19 kg
Spain Light lambs  9-12.5 kg
Portugal Light, lean lambs 11-14 kg
Greece Light lambs 9-12 kg
Germany Heavy, well-conformed lambs 18-21 kg
Sweden Heavy lambs 18-21 kg

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