5,000 cattle lined up for Turkey

Irish exporters are preparing to ship 5,000 cattle to Turkey in the coming weeks. Purcell Brothers, a Waterford-based exporting company, currently has 3,000 weanling bulls in quarantine for the market.

The sixth in a series of shipments to Turkey by the company, the bulls are expected to leave Waterford Port towards the end of the month. This will bring the total number of cattle exported by the firm to Turkey to over 18,000 head this year.

Another exporter, Viastar, is also preparing an order for the Turkish market. This consignment consists of 2,000-2,500 replacement heifers – mainly Limousin. It’s expected to leave Irish shores in the early weeks of November.

Last year, Viastar shipped more than 19,000 cattle to Turkey. The four shipments included both finished and weanling bulls.

100,000 Irish cattle to Turkey?

The Turkish market has grown in importance to Irish farmers – particularly suckler farmers. Since the market opened to Irish stock, over 39,000 animals have been exported to the Middle-Eastern state; there are hopes that even more cattle could be exported to the market in the near future.

Last week, the IFA’s Angus Woods said that Ireland could supply up to 100,000 head of Turkey’s annual requirement for 500,000 cattle. His comments followed a meeting in Ankara last week where, along with Bord Bia’s Joe Burke, he met Turkish authorities.

Woods said the Turkish authorities recognised the high quality of Irish livestock and praised the shipments they had received from Ireland, saying: “Turkey wants to develop the trade with Ireland and it is very important that this is fully facilitated in every way.”

The IFA national livestock chairman added: “We discussed how we can increase supplies from Ireland by matching our seasonal production with the Turkish specification requirements. We also discussed various issues around weight, age and quarantine requirements.”

Despite the positive comments from the Wicklow-based farmer, the future for Irish cattle exports to Turkey looks far from assured.

As it stands, Irish exporters are seeking contracts with ESK – Turkey’s Meat and Milk Board – and the prices being offered are thought to be down considerably on this time last year.

Furthermore, a decision by ESK to allow Turkish cattle buyers to deal directly with South American exporters could have knock-on effects for exporters operating in Ireland.

Potentially, this move would see Turkish importers prioritise cattle sourced from South America – simply due to the large numbers available for export at any one time.

In addition, the main Turkish buyers will be able to import upwards of 20,000 cattle from South America in a single shipment – a factor that is said to be a major plus for the Turkish importers involved.