How have live exports fared so far this year?

Live cattle exports play a vital role in underpinning prices at Irish marts right across the country.

Up to the week ending October 3, the number of live cattle exported from Ireland has seen a 13.5% decline so far in 2020 – compared to the equivalent period of 2019.

According to the latest Bord Bia figures, there have been a total of 224,793 (live) cattle exported this year. This is down 35,196 – compared to 2019’s corresponding figure of 259,989.

Much of this decline has been attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, whereby the dairy-bred calf export trade has been heavily impacted. Markets such as the Netherlands have taken the biggest hits; the Netherlands has seen a 41.5% decline in trade.

Exports to countries such as Spain, which would predominantly import Irish-bred calves, are recovering slightly from recent impacts. However, they are still behind 2019 export levels by about 10%.

Live exports to Italy have also taken a 30.3% hit – compared to this time last year.

UK trade increases

There have been recent positive trends in the UK market, which are aiding market recovery. Exports to Britain have seen an additional 651 animals travel to date.

Northern Ireland live exports have continued to soar in recent times, with an additional 23,496 having crossed the border this year. Consignments chiefly consist of animals that require further feeding prior to slaughter and, also, finishing animals.

Other international markets have witnessed a 10.7% increase. Countries such as Turkey and Algeria have seen significant growth in trade – with Libya seeing the largest increase (46%; 3,044 additional animals) compared to 2019 levels. This trade has been boosted by increased demand for young bulls.

Examining the age categories of cattle exported, the finished animal category has seen the largest increase, with 15,812 additional animals being moved.

Live exports of store cattle have also risen – by 36.2% thus far in 2020. Both of these age categories have been buoyed by the significant increase in Northern Irish trade.

Data Source: Bord Bia