1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agriculture/British Imports of Live Animals and Meat

British Imports of Live Animals and Meat.

The stock-breeders and graziers of the United Kingdom have, equally with the corn-growers, to face the brunt of foreign competition.

Up to 1896 store cattle were admitted into the United Kingdom for the purpose of being fattened, but under the Diseases of Animals Act of that year animals imported since then have to be slaughtered at the place of landing. The dimensions of this trade are shown in Table XIV.

Table XIV.—Numbers of Cattle, Sheep and Pigs imported into the
United Kingdom, 1891–1905.

 Year. 

 Cattle. 

 Sheep. 

 Pigs. 

1891

507,407

344,504

542

1892

502,237

79,048

3826

1893

340,045

62,682

138

1894

475,440

484,597

8

1895

415,565

1,065,470

321

1896

562,553

769,592

4

1897

618,321

611,504

1898

569,066

663,747

450

1899

503,504

607,755

1900

495,645

382,833

. .

1901

495,635

383,594

. .

1902

419,488

293,203

1903

522,546

354,241

1904

549,532

382,240

1905

565,139

183,084

150

The animals come mainly from the United States of America, Canada and Argentina, and the traffic in cattle is more uniform than that in sheep, whilst that in pigs seems practically to have reached extinction. The quantities of dead meat imported increased with great rapidity from 1891 to 1905, a circumstance largely due to the rise of the trade in chilled and frozen meat. Fresh beef in this form is imported chiefly from the United States and Australasia, fresh mutton from Australasia and Argentina.

Table XV. shows how rapidly this trade expanded during the decade of the ’nineties. The column headed bacon and hams indicates clearly enough that the imports of fresh meat did not displace those of preserved pig meat, for the latter expanded from 4,715,000 cwt. to 7,784,000 cwt. during the decade. The column for all dead meat includes not only the items tabulated, but also

Table XV.—Quantities of Dead Meat imported into the United
Kingdom, 1891–1905—Thousands of Cwt.

 Year.   Fresh 
Beef.
 Fresh 
Mutton.
 Fresh 
Pork.
Bacon
and Hams.
All
 Dead Meat. 

1891

1921

1663

128

4715

9,790

1892

2080

1700

132

5135

10,500

1893

1808

1971

182

4187

9,305

1894

2104

2295

180

4819

10,610

1895

2191

2611

288

5353

11,977

1896

2660

2895

299

6009

13,347

1897

3010

3193

348

6731

14,729

1898

3101

3314

558

7684

16,445

1899

3803

3446

669

7784

17,658

1900

4128

3393

695

7444

17,912

1901

4509

3608

792

7633

18,764

1902

3707

3660

655

6572

16,971

1903

4160

4017

706

6298

17,498

1904

4350

3495

610

6696

17,517

1905

5038

3811

506

6817

18,680

the following, the quantities stated being those for 1905:—Beef, salted, 142,806 cwt.; beef, otherwise preserved, 598,030 cwt.; preserved mutton, 30,111 cwt.; salted pork, 205,965 cwt.; dead rabbits, 656,078 cwt.; meat, unenumerated, 875,032 cwt. The quantities of these are relatively small, and, excepting rabbits from Australia, they show no general tendency to increase. The extent to which these growing imports were associated with a decline in value is shown in Table XVI.

The trend of the import trade in meat, live and dead (exclusive of rabbits), may be gathered from Table XVII., in which are given the annual average imports from the eight quinquennial periods embraced between 1866 and 1905. An increase in live cattle accompanied a decrease in live sheep and pigs, but the imports of dead meat expanded fifteen-fold over the period.

The rate at which the trade in imported frozen mutton increased as compared with the industry in home-grown mutton is illustrated in the figures published annually by Messrs W. Weddel and Company, from which those for 1885 and 1890 and for each year from 1895 to 1906 are given in Table XVIII. The home-grown is the estimated dead weight of sheep and lambs slaughtered, which is taken at 40% of the total number of sheep and lambs returned each year in the United Kingdom.

Table XVI.—Average Values of Fresh Meat, Bacon and Hams
imported into the United Kingdom, 1891–1905—per Cwt.

 Year.  Fresh
Beef.
Fresh
Mutton.
Fresh
Pork.
Bacon. Hams.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
1891 42 1 39 6 47 6 37 11 46 4
1892 42 5 40 6 46 11 40 10 47 4
1893 42 4 39 3 50 0 53 0 58 5
1894 40 0 37 10 48 5 43 10 49 1
1895 39 0 35 2 46 1 39 0 44 11
1896 37 10 32 7 45 11 34 6 43 0
1897 38 5 30 3 44 0 35 5 42 8
1898 38 2 29 7 41 10 36 2 39 6
1899 38 8 31 7 41 11 35 10 41 5
1900 39 7 34 5 43 0 4 1 9 46 10
1901 39 6 36 7 43 4 47 1 48 8
1902 42 8 37 9 44 2 52 9 52 1
1903 40 3 39 0 44 1 52 10 55 1
1904 37 1 39 3 45 2 47 1 49 11
1905 35 6 38 6 46 0 46 6 47 4

In the imported column is given the weight of fresh (frozen) mutton and lamb imported, plus the estimated dead weight of the sheep imported on the hoof for slaughter. The quantity imported in 1899 was double that in 1890, and quadruple that in 1885. Moreover, in 1885 the imported product was only about one-seventh

Table XVII.—Average Annual Imports of Cattle, Sheep and
Pigs, and of Dead Meat, into the United Kingdom over
eight 5-yearly Periods.

Period. Cattle. Sheep. Pigs. Dead Meat.
No. No. No. Cwt.
1866–1870 194,947 610,300 64,827 1,155,867
1871–1875 215,990 864,516 74,040 3,134,175
1876–1880 272,745 938,704 44,613 5,841,913
1881–1885 387,2$2 974,316 24,355 6,012,495
1886–1890 438,098 800,599 19,437 7,681,729
1891–1895 448,139 407,260 967 10,436,549
1896–1900 549,818 607,086 91 15,785,354
1901–1905 510,468 319,272 30 17,384,366

as much as the home-grown, whereas in 1890 it was more than one-fourth, and in 1906 close on two-thirds. This large import trade in fresh meat, which sprang up entirely within the last quarter of the 19th century, has placed an abundance of cheap and wholesome food well within the reach of the great industrial populations of the United Kingdom.

Table XVIII.—Home Product and Imports of Sheep and Mutton
into the United Kingdom—Thousands of Tons.

 Year.  Home-
 grown. 
 Imported.   Year.  Home-
 grown. 
 Imported. 
1885 322 47 1900 332  179
1890 339 92 1901 330  191
1895 319  157 1902 322  191
1896 329  164 1903 318  210[1]
1897 327  175 1904 311  185
1898 333  182 1905 312  195
1899 339  187 1906 313  207


At the same time it cannot be gainsaid that it has opened the way to fraud. Butchers have palmed off upon their customers imported fresh meat as homegrown, and secured a dishonest profit by charging for it the prices of the latter, which are considerably in excess of those of the imported product.

  1. In 1903 two of the principal sources of supply of mutton shipped in excess of their exportable surplus, for which they suffered severely in 1904—hence the somewhat irregular movements after 1903.

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