The latest UK lamb production data published for May 2022 by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) shows that UK sheepmeat production increased by 12% year on year.

The volume of sheepmeat produced was recorded at 21,300t, representing an increase of 2,300t on May 2021 levels.

The increased production stemmed from a combination of higher throughput of hoggets, lambs and ewes, along with higher average carcase weights.

The number of hoggets and lambs slaughtered totalled 924,000 head, up 93,000 or 11% on May 2020 levels.

The average carcase weight was recorded at 20.4kg, up 400g on May 2021 levels.

Meanwhile, the ewe kill increased by 3,900, or 5%, to 82,600 head.

Total sheepmeat production for 2022 stands at 122,500t, equating to an increase of 13% on the corresponding period in 2021. Sheep throughput of 4.74m up to the end of May is running 11% higher year on year.

Higher sheepmeat exports

As shown in the bar chart below, there was a similar volume of hoggets and lambs processed in April 2022, with this giving rise to a substantial increase in the volume of sheepmeat exported.

UK monthly lamb kill

Figures published by the AHDB show UK sheepmeat exports for April 2022 recorded at 6.987t of fresh and frozen sheepmeat. This represents an increase of 170t, or 2.5%, on March export volumes and an increase of 1,700t or 33% year on year.

Increased availability

The AHDB states that increased availability of sheepmeat for export and what it describes as ‘discounted lamb’ compared with key producers has underpinned the strong performance in 2022.

The market update says that France was the main destination, accounting for 3,600t or half of the total volume exported to EU markets. This represents an increase of 60% or in excess of 1,400t on April 2021 volumes.

However, the report cautions that France may not be the final destination for these sheepmeat exports, citing that some exporters find it preferable to channel exports intended for other markets via France.