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.
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
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 |
| Fresh |
|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||41 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 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.
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.
- 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.