Beef exports for the first quarter of 2024 are up by almost 4% and with the decline in red meat production in the EU, that figure could improve further.

Latest statistics from HMRC show that in the first three months of the year, Britain exported 27,150 tonnes of beef, which is up 3.7% on the same period in 2023, with the value of those shipments up 0.7%. Most (85%) was destined for the EU but there was also a huge increase in the demand from Hong Kong which increased its imports from GB by 84% while non-EU countries bought an extra 66% more compared to the first quarter of 2023.

GB lamb exports also increased significantly in January and February and only fell in March due to increased demand on the home market. In the first quarter of the year, exports were up 13% with volumes also higher than those in 2021 and 2022.

READ MORE | Red meat exports to Europe boost home market

The increase in exports follows an EU Commission report which shows beef production on the continent is predicted to fall 2.3% in 2024 as a result of a declining suckler and dairy herd. This reduction is on the back of a 2.8% decline in production in 2023 when suckler numbers fell 160,000 head and dairy cow numbers dropped 344,000 head.

Similarly, sheep meat production in the EU is down 5% and since 2019 has seen a reduction of 6m head.

France remains the sector's largest trade partner in terms of exports, buying an additional 13% more in the first three months of 2024.