Irish beef exports to China and the US for the first six months of 2015 stood at 3,325t, according to the latest figures from the CSO.
However, the majority of these exports particularly to China were in the form of fifth quarter products.
Only 351t of these exports to China and the US were fresh and frozen higher value beef products, the figures show.
Beef exports (excluding edible offal) increased by 251t with an additional value of €840,000 for the first six months in 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014.
According to the CSO, the majority of Irish beef exports to China are in the form of edible offal and are worth in the region of €8m annually.
Irish exports of edible beef offal to China were worth €7.8m in 2013 at 5,523t which accounted for approximately 2% of total Chinese imports.
The value of this export market increased in 2014 to €8.6m despite only a modest increase in export volume (+85t), according to figures obtained from the CSO.
Exports of offal to China for the first six months of 2015 were €5.5m or 2,974t, says the CSO, which was an increase of approximately 700t from the same period in 2014.
According to these figures, volumes of frozen beef on the bone for the first six months of 2015 have already surpassed 2014 levels.
There was 101t of this product (frozen beef on the bone) exported to China in 2014 at a value €401,000, while exports from January-June 2015 were at 195t at a value of €486,000, it says.
When the first six months of both 2014 and 2015 are compared it indicates that an additional €646,000 worth of Irish beef exports (excluding edible offal) have made it to China, with increased exports of 151t.
Boneless frozen beef exports to China in 2014 were valued at €759,000 with exports of 276t.
Unlike the beef on the bone, boneless frozen beef in 2015 has failed to surpass 2014 levels and exports sit at 125t with a value of €357,000, it says.
Irish beef exports to the US for the first six months of 2015 were only 31t, says the CSO. This export market has a value of €194,000 to the Irish economy.
This compromises of €178,000 worth of fresh chilled beef (30t) and frozen beef worth €16,000 (1t).
Importance of new markets
Speaking at the opening of the Chinese beef market to Irish beef, Minister of Agriculture said that the opening of the this beef market presents opportunities to the Irish beef sector in terms of both offal and higher value cuts.
“There is market potential not only for beef offals, but increasingly for high quality steak cuts and for traceable manufacturing beef for the expanding fast food sector.
“This announcement will pave the way for Irish operators to get a share of that market, he said.”
Meat Industry Ireland Chairman Philip Carroll also highlighted the importance of both the Chinese and US markets for Irish beef exports at a recent Beef Round table meeting.
“Open access to markets is essential to success at all levels in the meat chain. Extra efforts are urgently needed to ensure that key markets, such as the US and China are fully open.
“This will allow processors to secure a growing share of these markets, creating a solid foundation to increase this share when additional product becomes available in the coming years,” he said.