The number of Irish cattle exported to the UK has dropped by 10% this year, due to a weaker Sterling and a lower UK beef price, according to Bord Bia’s Joe Burke.

“The Irish price has remained stable, whereas the UK beef price has dropped consistently since the beginning of the year,” he said.

The Beef and Livestock Sector Manager said that the UK has a much lower cattle price this year, due to the exchange rate, which has seen Sterling become weaker compared to the euro.

“The UK price in euro terms has declined as Sterling has weakened. The strong Sterling was very beneficial to Irish farmers last year, as over half of Irish beef was sold in Sterling,” he said.

But, the strength of Sterling has decreased and this has made Irish cattle less competitive on the UK market, resulting in lower live exports numbers, he said.

Speaking at a livestock seminar organised by Quinns of Baltinglass, Burke said that the UK market is important for Irish beef exports, as it was worth over €1 billion to Ireland’s economy in 2015.

Price in the UK has fallen significantly. The average price has come back in Sterling terms from £3.40/kg to close to £3.25/kg.

Burke also said that the remainder of the year is likely to remain difficult for Irish beef exports to the UK, as UK cattle supplies are set to increase by 2% in 2016.

“We reckon that import demand will be down slightly and the prices achievable for Irish beef in the UK will be under pressure.

“This is likely to be the case in the second half of the year, when Irish cattle numbers start to increase,” he said.