BELGIUM, Brussels. Significantly less beef entered the European Union's domestic market in the first third of 2021 than in the same period last year.
According to data from the Brussels-based Commission, the import volume from January to April amounted to 88,280 t; this was 26,080 t or 22.8% less than in the same period last year. Less product entered the Community from South America as well as from Oceania and the United States. The lockdown and lack of food service sales opportunities likely played a role, as did tight export supplies in some countries and good export opportunities to China.
The most important third-country supplier of beef to the 27 EU member states in the first third of the year was Brazil, with 26,860 t; however, this was 7.3% less than in the same period last year. Brazilian suppliers instead continued to expand their exports to China, up just over 10% to 371,100 t compared to the first five months of 2020. The UK was still one of the top suppliers for customers in the domestic market last year. However, following Brexit, there has been a significant slowdown in business. Data available only for the first quarter of 2021 show a year-on-year drop in trade from 18,050 t to 16,070 t; UK deliveries to the EU-27 have thus more than halved.
In addition, EU beef imports from Argentina fell by a fifth to around 15,000 t compared to the first four months of 2020, even though the government's export ban there was only imposed in May. In Australia, a significant drop in beef slaughter caused exports to the Community to decline 22.8% to 42,400 t. Beef purchases from the US were down as much as 43.8% to 3,830 t. Among the few countries with higher shipments to the EU was Uruguay, with an increase of 20.4% to 16,640 t. Suppliers from Switzerland were also able to increase their sales in the domestic market, by 17.7% to 1,660 t.