Dutch market disruption for Irish calves

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for Irish calves has been impacted considerably. One of our best-performing markets in recent years has been the Dutch market.

However, since Covid-19 made its presence felt in the Netherlands, the market has performed poorly for Irish calf exports. In fact, Irish calves shipped to the Netherlands have witnessed a 40% drop – or a decline of some 30,000 calves – when we compare it to the same period in 2019.

The main reason for this is the reduced demand for veal in the EU market. According to Bord Bia, veal prices have fallen to €4.00/kg, which is well below the cost of production.

In saying that, a lot of Irish calves had already made there way to the Netherlands prior to the spread of Covid-19. However, overall calf exports are down some 28% – or 46,000 head – on 2019 figures.

All markets are reporting reduced demand for calves, including: Northern Ireland; Italy and Poland; with the Spanish market currently performing the best.

So far in 2020, a total of 149,978 cattle were sent for live export – down from 195,149 head in 2019. To date in 2020, a total of 149,978 cattle were sent for live export. This represents a 23% decline in exports compared to the same period in 2019.

Source: Bord Bia

On a more positive note, the outlook for older animals – including weanlings and stores – is a little more positive in the coming weeks, with countries like Spain and Italy importing stronger calves.

The Northern Irish market has performed better this year, with overall exports running 15% higher in 2020, reflecting the better prices achievable at the factory gate.

Moving to international markets – according to Bord Bia – for the year to-date, shipments to non-EU markets have increased by 52%, to 11,800 head. This trade has focused mainly on the Libyan market (7,600 head), followed by Turkey (2,900 head) and Algeria (1,100 head).