France remains a ‘key market for Irish beef’ but exports are falling

France continues to remain a key market for Irish beef with sales expected to reach 47,000t in 2016, according to Bord Bia.

However, this is a drop of 10% in volume terms year-on-year.

Bord Bia’s Noreen Lanigan said that Ireland is the third largest supplier of beef into the French market and it is our second largest global beef market, following only the UK.

Speaking at the SIAL international food fair in Paris this week, Lanigan, the Bord Bia Paris Office Manager, said the French beef market has been impacted considerably by the French producer crisis, as French multiples essentially closed to non-French product.

Beef exports to France fall

According to Bord Bia, the significant increase in French cow disposals due to the dairy crisis did not help to lower prices at retail level which remained at a relatively high level throughout the year.

This in turn impacted negatively on beef consumption which is expected to fall by a further 1.5% this year.

Overall French beef imports fell 12% between January and July on the same time in 2015, with all of the major supplying countries affected.

Germany, Italy and Poland were hardest hit, with exports to France down by 10%, 54% and 15% respectively on the corresponding period in 2015.

As a result of this fall, Ireland currently supplies 17% of the total fresh and frozen import market, moving into joint second position with Germany and behind the Netherlands, which has 26% of this market.

Plans for the future

Lanigan said the Bord Bia’s strategy in France going forward is to focus on building existing sustainable Irish breed and branded businesses in the commercial and fine dining food service sectors.

She said that the Origin Green Programme and the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club initiatives will be instrumental in achieving this via local networks and partnerships.

We have chosen to focus on the fine dining sector in France, forming key partnerships with some key players in that sector.

“That is the market where of grass-based production system is recognised and can deliver the higher returns and that is where would propose to focus,” she said.

Lanigan also said there is growing demand for beef from Angus and Hereford cattle and French consumers often recognise this beef as being Irish.

She also added that these is huge potential in the French organic market, a market which grew 10% last year and is said to grow further in the coming years.

“We have a number of Irish companies already exporting organic products here and we would hope to continue to assist them,” she said.