Representatives from Bord Bia visited Morocco last week on a venture to explore opportunities for live-cattle exports to the region.

The trip was a four-day market study visit and the visit provided what was described as “positive engagement with potential customers” of Irish cattle, according to Bord Bia’s sheepmeat and livestock sector manager, Seamus McMenamin.

Seamus also explained that “a better understanding of market requirements” for cattle in Morocco has been obtained following the visit.

Morocco imports a substantial number of cattle from countries such as Spain and France every year and could be a new destination for Irish cattle if prices are competitive.

It is understood that Morocco could offer a potential new market for a range of Irish cattle, including top-end suckler-bred weanling and dairy-cross beef animals.

Irish dairy heifers could be of interest to buyers in the north African country also.

The visit has been described as a positive step towards expanding the market for Irish livestock in the country.

Israel export progress

Late last year, a group of Israeli veterinary inspectors visited Ireland to view cattle-exporting facilities and early this year, a number of what were described as “potentially major buyers of Irish cattle” visited Ireland to view the export facilities and cattle on offer.

Ireland is still awaiting veterinary certification to export cattle and sheep to the country and sources from the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has said the approval “is at the second-last hurdle”.

The country already imports a significant number of cattle from other countries such as Portugal and previously Australia, as well as a number of other countries in eastern Europe.

The most recent update on approval for export of Irish cattle to Israel from DAFM is as follows: “Ireland has been approved in principle as a country from which Israel is prepared to accept livestock and horses. Agreement has been concluded on the import health requirements for horses and a health certificate has been agreed for movements from Ireland to Israel. Discussions continue in respect of cattle and sheep.

Conversations with livestock exporters in Ireland would indicate approval is “imminent” and is expected to be announced within the coming weeks.