Irish beef exports have been forecast to grow in appeal among British customers, according to report recently published in the UK.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB’s) beef market outlook for 2022 has outlined that with Irish cattle “currently at an increased discount to UK animals”, imports of Irish beef “are likely to become more attractive”, especially if domestic food service demand increases.

The report referred to Ireland as “the UK’s main supplier of beef” and outlined that cattle availability in Ireland is forecast to increase in the second half of 2022, which it notes could result in the total number of Irish cattle processed in 2022 increasing by 3%.

The AHDB report also notes that overall UK beef imports are expected to show a slight growth of around 1% compared to 2020 levels overall.

Commenting on UK beef exports, the report outlined the UK’s beef exports will grow by more than 10% in 2022, with strong export growth expected in the first quarter of this year.

The British farmers and growers board’s report also forecasts that tightness in global supplies – coupled with lower EU production – is expected to support beef prices on mainland Europe and indicated this “may have a favourable outcome” on UK beef prices.

However, it was outlined that increased imports for the food service market and “comparatively cheaper, more plentiful Irish supplies” could exert some price pressure on UK beef price.

Reflecting on how the UK beef market performed in 2021, the AHDB’s report noted that 2021 saw some of the highest prices for finished cattle and cull cows on record.

Commenting on future forecasts for beef production in the UK, it was noted that the slaughter of cull cows is forecast to fall by around 1% in 2022.

Both dairy and suckler breeding herds are expected to remain in a state of contraction in the UK also this year and AHDB slaughter forecasts indicate a 1% increase in total beef production in the UK for 2022 compared to 2021.