Feedback from exporters eligible to export beef to the US indicates that exports to date had reached approximately 330 tonnes by early September, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.
This would have an approximate value of €2.1m and he said this is a very encouraging start to the trade particularly given that the trade to date is confined to the market for intact cuts as we currently await approval to export beef intended for grinding.
“It must be remembered that only two plants were eligible to export up to mid-May and June respectively”, the he added.
Minister Coveney was responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv.
“There are now six plants approved to export and my understanding is that this momentum in exports will continue and grow right through to the end of 2015.
“As with any new market it takes time to build a reputational brand and a customer base and the real time to assess its value is when these are bedded down.
“More importantly the relatively high prices available for beef in Europe this year means that US buyers are priced out of the market and Irish exporters are choosing to send product to more valuable markets in the UK and on the continent,” he said.
UK exports up
According to the Minister exports to the UK are up 4,000t compared with the same period in 2014 which was already up 9,000t on 2013.
“The fact that the rise this year also coincides with a reduced kill overall (back about 10% year on year) highlights further the strength of Irish beef exports in the UK. This of course is helped by a strong sterling and weak euro,” he said.
2015 positive for beef prices
The Minister also said that overall, 2015 has been a very positive year for beef prices in Ireland with the yearly average to date 10% up on last year (€4.07 compared to €3.70) in 2013 (10% increase).
“Prices last week are 13% up on the same week last year notwithstanding recent price decreases. Ireland is currently at 104% of the EU 15 price and 107% of the EU 28 price,” he said.
According to Minister Coveney his Department continues to engage with the relevant authorities in the United States in order to agree on a protocol which would allow the export of beef intended for grinding from Ireland to the United States and some progress has been made towards this objective.
However, he said it would appear that the USDA will not make any decision on this issue until the audit currently being carried out on US-approved plants in Ireland by the Food Safety Inspection Service has been completed and the report finalised.