Irish beef exports to the US up until the end of April of this year were 31% higher than the corresponding period in 2017.

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a total of 880t of Irish beef made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean by the end of the fourth month of 2018.

In January 2015, Ireland became the first EU member state to be granted beef market access to the US in over 15 years – due to a ban on EU beef for BSE reasons.

Statistics from the Central Statistics Office indicate that some 992t of Irish beef was exported to the US in the first year of access (2015) – equated to a value of €5.452 million.

Meanwhile, in 2016 a total of 1,772t of beef – valued at €9.840 million – made its way to the US.

Following that, the quantity of beef exported dropped by just over 10% or 201t in 2017 – to 1,571t. These exports were valued at €7.719 million.

New markets

In the past few weeks, it was announced that the Chinese market has been opened to Irish beef exports – making Ireland the first EU member state to gain access following a stringent application and inspection process.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, revealed the news last month; he is also set to lead a trade mission to China in the coming week.

The opening of this key market presents an excellent opportunity for the Irish beef sector, from farmers through to processors, in line with the market development theme of our Food Wise strategy.

“Opening and developing new markets is also a key part of our response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit.

”This decision also represents a powerful endorsement of Ireland’s high standards by the Chinese administration, for which food safety is a prerequisite for trade,” he said.

According to Bord Bia, China officially imported more than 700,000t of beef in 2017 – a figure expected to double by 2020.

In China, annual per capita beef consumption is low at 4-6kg – compared to 19kg in Ireland. However, consumption is on the rise. An average annual increase of just 1kg per capita equates to an additional 1.38 million tonnes of beef per annum.