BELGIUM, Brussels. The increasing demand from China and Brexit also affects imports of beef into the European Union.
In the first half of 2020, significantly less beef from third countries entered the European domestic market than in the same period of the previous year. According to the Brussels Commission, the import volume was 176,150 t carcass weight equivalent, which was 44,380 t or 20.1% less than in the same period last year. In addition to corona-related lower demand, the decline in imports was mainly due to reduced purchases from the new third country Great Britain. The volume of beef procured from the island, for which data is only available from January to May, fell by 24,340 t or almost 30% to 57,650 t.
If trade with the United Kingdom is disregarded, beef imports to the 27 member states from all other third countries fell by a good 20,000 t or 14.5% to 118,500 t. This was mainly due to lower deliveries from South America. Brazil, for example, sold around 8,700 t or 17.6% less goods to customers in the Community, at 40,690 t. Some of these goods probably went to the high-demand market in China. The decline in imports from Uruguay was relatively even steeper at 24.7% to 16,740 t. Only Argentina expanded its exports to the EU, by 6% to 37,160 t.
Less beef from other continents also entered the EU market in the first half of 2020 than in the same period last year. For example, the dwindling supply in Australia, which also supplied China on a large scale, led to a decline in imports from this country by a quarter to just 6,040 t. The volume of beef originating from New Zealand fell by 3.9% to 3,170 t. The USA recorded a drop in deliveries to the EU of 12.4% to 7,740 t, partly due to corona-related production losses in slaughterhouses. The most important third country supplier in geographical proximity to the EU after Great Britain is Switzerland. However, imports from there also fell short of the level of the first half of 2019, namely by 7.3% to 1,940 t.