Bord Bia positive on weanling exports, but are Irish cattle still too dear?

The prospects for the live cattle trade this year could best be described as ‘uncertain’ at present.

According to Bord Bia, the outlook for live cattle exports in 2016 appears ‘broadly positive‘.

It says the demand for calves for veal production is likely to be strong with milk replacer prices significantly lower and demand for veal remaining steady in most markets.

Meanwhile, it says improving economic situations in traditional markets such as Italy and Spain should see some improved demand for beef and ultimately some recovery in live exports to those markets, particularly for weanlings and stores.

Bord Bia also says the demand for Irish and EU livestock from markets in North Africa and the Middle East will depend on the political situation and our relative cost competitiveness.

Overall, it says 2016 should see some recovery in livestock exports, led by increased cattle shipments.

However, Live Exporter, Sean Mitchell is less upbeat. He says prices for Irish cattle particularly weanlings, remains too strong for significant levels live exports as seen in other years.

“It’s really hard to know at the minute what the prospects are like for live exports this year.

“Certainly at the moment, things are not overly positive. In terms of the key markets- Italy is not that good at the moment and Spain really is no better from what I can see.

“Prices are still too strong at Irish marts for us to be competitive overseas. There is some talk of Irish beef prices falling back somewhat this year. But at present mart prices remain a little too strong,” he said.

In 2015, total live cattle exports fell by an estimated 25% to around 178,000 head.

According to Bord Bia, shipments of all categories of stock showed a significant decline. The number of calves exported fell by 16%. Similarly, the numbers of adult or finished cattle eased by 18% while

The number of calves exported fell by 16%. Similarly, the numbers of adult or finished cattle eased by 18% while exports of weanlings and stores were collectively 43% lower.

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