France remains a key export market for Irish sheepmeat, accounting for 33% in total.

This is according to the Teagasc Economic Outlook for Irish Agriculture report, which was published yesterday (Tuesday, December 13).

The vast majority of Irish sheepmeat production is destined for foreign markets with 54,500t (carcass weight equivalent) of sheepmeat exported in 2021, a decline of 5% on previous years.

The reliance on export markets means that understanding the outlook for lamb price developments on Ireland’s export markets is critical in assessing the prices that Irish sheep farmers are likely to receive.

On a year-to-date basis (to the end of August), total sheepmeat exports were up by 15%, with exports to almost all destinations increasing slightly, the report said.

Ireland’s main sheepmeat export regions and their percentage share of Irish sheepmeat imported outlined below:

  • France – 33%;
  • United Kingdom – 17%;
  • Germany – 14%;
  • Sweden – 12%;
  • Rest of the world – 8%;
  • Belgium (including Luxembourg) – 5%.

With other destinations for Irish sheepmeat, not included in the list above, heading to other regions within the European Union.

We know, as an exporting nation, the reliance we have on these markets to take the sheepmeat produced and this was further highlighted in the report when it revealed that Ireland’s rate of self-sufficiency in sheepmeat increased by 3% to 361% in 2021.