Ireland exported an estimated €9m worth of beef to the US during the first six months of the year, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

According to the Department, a total of seven Irish plants have been approved to sell beef into the US market.

As of June this year, these plants shipped 1,200t of beef across the Atlantic, which is a considerable increase compared to the corresponding time in 2015.

Between January and June of 2015, Irish exporters shipped 31t of beef direct to the US which was valued at €194,000.

The increase in Irish beef exports also coincided with a period of falling beef import volumes into the US and according to the USDA, the volume of beef imported into the US during June fell by 16% year-on-year.

This fall was mainly due to smaller volumes of beef being imported from both Australia and New Zealand.

Ireland still to ship manufacturing beef to the US

However, the Department of Agriculture also confirmed that Ireland has yet to ship any manufacturing beef to the US, as Irish processors were only granted access to the market in early July.

Ireland was the first EU Member State to be granted such access and the opening of the market was welcomed by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

“As we know, this US market is a potentially huge prize given the size of the market and the demand we know exists there for premium grass-fed beef,” the Minister said.

The US decision paved the way for the Irish beef industry to undertake the necessary steps that will enable the trade to commence.

But, at the time of the announcement, Meat Industry Ireland (the body representing beef and sheep factories) said that the trade in manufacturing beef between Ireland and the US would not happen immediately.