Bord Bia and the main players in the live export sector have attended the annual meeting in Tullamore to review the past year and assess export opportunities in 2017, a year that will see the number of cattle on the market increase by approximately 100,000.
The group received presentations from Bord Bia, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Animal Health Ireland and Mr. Billel Haddad, a Market Consultant in North Africa, who played a key role in the ministerial trade mission to North Africa in November 2016.
Joe Burke, Bord Bia’s Livestock Sector Manager, provided a review of Irish live trade during 2016 and an outlook for respective markets.
Live exports experienced a decline in 2016 to markets in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy.
He confirmed that French exports were highly competitive last year, while the Netherlands remains challenging.
While Spain is a key market for quality calves, EU demand has been impacted by cull cow supplies and so there is an increasing focus on international markets.
The recent trade mission to Algeria has prompted interest from Algerian livestock buyers to explore possibilities of buying livestock from Ireland.
Mr Haddad, who is based in Spain, highlighted the main opportunities and threats of the Algerian livestock market.
Recent communications with these potential importers indicate a desire by them to visit Ireland and establish direct contacts with the Irish livestock industry.
Algeria imports an average of 40,000 animals per year, with France and Spain being the main two export partners.
Jim O’Toole, Bord Bia’s Meat and Livestock Director, chaired the meeting and gave an update on the European beef market, while James Casey, Veterinary Inspector at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, provided an update on live animal transport and shipping.
In addition, Michael Sheahan, Senior Superintending Veterinary Inspector, outlined export developments and certification and Pat Keena presented on the Department`s Animal Identification and Movement System.
Finally, David Graham, Deputy CEO, Animal Health Ireland discussed the animal health issues affecting the intra-Community and international live export trade.
Live export market
Live cattle exports have fallen by approximately 18% this year, reaching 147,000. This follows a 55% decline in cattle movements to Northern Ireland, as well as fewer exports to the Netherlands (-38%) and Italy (-24%). More positively, exports to Turkey began in September, and these reached almost 20,000 for the year. Exports to Spain increased by 26%, totalling 36,700 head.