Speaking at the Beef Forum in Dublin this week, IFA President Eddie Downey told the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that the Government announcements on new beef markets to the US and China must be turned into real delivery and increased exports.
Eddie Downey said the main focus of discussion at this week’s forum was the need to take action now on removing the technical obstacles holding back exports to these new markets in order to deal with increased cattle numbers in the pipeline for 2017 and to prevent a repeat of the severe beef price and income problems of 2014. He said the key conclusion from the Forum was that there must be delivery on getting real access to new markets.
The IFA President said it was very clear from the Forum that a lot more work needs to be done in getting more beef plants approved for export to the US. In addition, the Forum was also told that Ireland is still working on clearance for manufacturing beef exports to the US. However, Minister Coveney said at the Forum that he is confident of delivering access for manufacturing beef to the US in the next number of months.
Eddie Downey said IFA also pushed the Minister on a number of other important Forum issues including increasing the age limit for prime cattle from 30 to 36 months, increased monitoring of carcase trim at the meat plants, more live exports, market transparency, and using the Department AIMS system to count relevant residencies.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the Forum heard presentations from Bord Bia which highlighted the fact that finished cattle supplies will remain very scarce for the next 12 months, with AIMS data from June 1st 2015 showing that the number of cattle in the 12 to 36 month age category are back 100,000 head compared to 2014 levels. In addition, this data also shows that calf registrations for 2015 are up 116,000 head, with most of the increase occurring in Angus and Hereford calves from the dairy herd.
Henry Burns said it is clear from the Bord Bia figures, that cattle supplies at the factories will remain tight for at least the next 12 months and the supply situation in our main export market in the UK is somewhat similar. In addition, he said the strength of sterling and price returns from the UK are very positive.
Bord Bia also made a detailed presentation on Irish beef exports for 2014 with a breakdown by market, product type and market channel. This information showed that Irish beef sales were made up of 14% steak cuts, 18% round cuts, 59.5% forequarter and VL’s and 8.5% carcases. It also showed 260,000t were exported to the UK or 49% of the total, with 45% to EU markets and 6% to third country markets. For the UK market, the channel breakdown was 41.5% to retail, 35% to wholesale/food service and 23.5% to manufacturing. A breakdown of the UK retail sales shows 60.5% forequarter/VLs, 22% round cuts, 9.5% steaks and 8% carcase. In contrast, the breakdown of EU exports shows higher retail penetration at 43% and significantly higher retail sales of steak cuts at 13.5%.
Teagasc also made a presentation to the Beef Forum outlining a number of draft blueprints or guidelines for the various different beef production systems. The Department of Agriculture made a presentation on Producer Organisations focusing on the legislative changes at EU level and plans to introduce these in Ireland.