Irish beef imports put pressure on UK trade

Lower priced imports of Irish beef into the UK are making it difficult for British farmers to compete, according to EBLEX.

EBLEX, which is an organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England, has said that with the Irish beef industry very reliant on exports and the UK is, by far, the largest destination for Irish beef, the increased imports recorded so far this year look set to continue.

It says the issue for the UK market remains that with increased Irish supplies, the price differential is making it difficult to compete. While the price differential has narrowed considerably it is still higher than it was for much of the first half of 2013 and is still relatively high historically.

As such, it remains likely that the pressure on the UK market is set to continue until supplies tighten or demand improves markedly.

It noted with Irish supplies still well ahead of year earlier levels the fact that Irish prices have remained largely stable of late is something of a positive in the current market. However, prices do look to be edging back in the latest few weeks.

According to EBLEX, the year to date Irish prime cattle slaughterings totalled an estimated 517,000 head. This represents an increase of 16%, or almost 70,000 head, compared with the same period in 2013.

Interestingly with carcase weights also much higher so far this year it is likely when the official beef production figures are released that total beef supplies will be even higher than the increase in slaughterings. However, it says current indications are that supplies will tighten towards the end of the year will remain tight in 2015 and into 2016.

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