Sheepmeat production across the EU fell significantly by 6.1% for the period January to July 2023.

The greatest reduction occurred in Romania, where production was recorded at 49,500t, some 16.4% lower than the corresponding period in 2022.

As can be seen in the bar chart below, production also fell sharply in Spain and France, with these three countries the main drivers of sheep production.

Ireland and Greece were the only two countries from the top five sheep-producing nations to record an increase in production.

An increase of 4.5% in production in Ireland was underpinned by a large carryover of hoggets and an increase in sheep throughput by almost 90,000 hoggets.

Sheep slaughterings have fallen significantly in Spain, Romania and France, which are the main drivers of EU sheepmeat production. (Source: EU Commission Sheepmeat dashboard).

Production in Greece was steady at 29,900t. However, reports indicate that a contributor to the steady throughput was the continued culling of ewes, with sheep milking flocks remaining under financial pressure.

Production in Germany and Italy was unchanged, while the Netherlands recorded a big jump of 17.6%, but from a low production base.

The low production level across these countries sheds some light on growth in Irish sheepmeat exports to these destinations in recent years, with Belgium a similar story.

In contrast, production in Portugal fell by a sizeable 16%, but this again occurred from a low production base.