Irish meat exports to France are coming under increasing pressure as French farmer protests over ‘foreign’ meat escalate.

Irish meat processors were told in recent days by leading French retailers that they would not be buying Irish, or any other foreign meat, to put on supermarket shelves.

Now, the French government has insisted that all public institutions must purchase only French product in an effort to support local production.

Meat Industry Ireland, the IBEC body that represents the meat processors, says that its members are increasingly concerned in relation to ongoing developments in France that are hampering trade in meat exports to that market.

In addition to the disruption at ferry ports in recent weeks, the French producer protest action is now also impacting negatively on business, it says.

The farmer protest action which has been intensifying in recent weeks is now leading to moves by some French customers to cease purchasing imported meat.

According to Meat Industry Ireland, these actions are a cause for significant concern for Irish meat exports. In particular, the lamb trade is very vulnerable given the traditional high level of exports of Irish lamb to the French market during our peak production season.

Indeed, the French actions could not come at a worse time for the sheep sector with quotes for lambs already coming under pressure. Quotes in the region of €4.50/kg are now expected for lambs towards the end of the week as processors report problems in getting product through to the French market.

It is also our biggest export market for sheep meat with a value of €90m, which equates to 42% of our total global sheep meat exports.

However, France is also Ireland’s largest Eurozone market for beef, including live exports, and at €260m, accounts for 23% of Irish beef exports to Continental Europe (57,270t).