BELGIUM, Brussels. In the first two months of the current year, there have been surprising developments in the European Union's foreign trade in beef.
Thus, according to data from the Brussels Commission, Uruguay has become the most important third-country supplier to the Community. If trade in live cattle is included, Israel topped the list of the most important buyer countries in terms of exports. Overall, EU exports, including live cattle, decreased by 5.4% compared to January and February 2020, to 107,380 t of carcass weight equivalent. On the import side, however, a strong increase of 19% to 51,530 t was recorded. The one-fifth increase in EU beef imports was almost entirely attributable to Uruguay. The volume sourced from there more than quadrupled year-on-year to 27,140 t. However, only a few hundred tons were purchased. However, only a few hundred tons more of chilled and frozen beef were shipped to the EU; the bulk of the shipments consisted of 20,400 t of beef fat, a product that did not even enter the Community from there in 2020.
All other major beef suppliers, including Brazil, Argentina, Australia and the US, exported between a quarter and a half less beef to member states over the period. Only Switzerland increased its sales to the EU, by 150 t to just under 1,000 t, ranking sixth among the major suppliers. EU beef exports were down significantly compared to the first two months of 2020, falling by 6,770 t or 8.1% to 76,930 t. This was partly due to an almost 10%-drop in shipments to Ghana, the most important customer, to 7,360 t. In addition, sales volumes fell by between twelve and 17% in Ivory Coast, Israel and Switzerland, among other countries. The few countries with higher offtake volumes included the Philippines, up 4.8% to 7,020 t, and Hong Kong, up 12.2% to 6,840 t.
Live exports of cattle decreased by 5,140 to 131,050 head, according to the EU Commission, but when converted to slaughter weight, they increased by 2 percent to 30,450 t. Israel was the main contributor, with an increase of 13.5% to 4,170 t. The tonnage of cattle shipped to Libya grew by 6.4% to just over 5,000 t, while shipments to Algeria declined by 5.7% to 5,070 t.