Thursday of this week will mark one year since Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, welcomed an agreement with the veterinary authorities in Australia that allowed for the importation of pig meat from Ireland.

In Bord Bia’s Meat and Livestock Review and Outlook 2013/2014, it estimated for the full year, more than 1,500 tonnes of uncooked pigmeat have been exported to the Australian market.

At the time of the market opening last March, Minister Coveney said: “Conservative industry estimates are that up to €20m worth of Irish pork could be exported to Australia on an annual basis.

Australia is a large worldwide importer of pigmeat, bringing in more than 149,000 tonnes of pork, valued at approximately €400m in 2012. With a population of almost 23 million, some two million of whom claim Irish ancestry and a per capita consumption of 24.5kg of pork per year, Bord Bia notes that Australia offers Irish pork processors exciting opportunities.

Last year was a good year for Irish pigmeat exports overall, which were 16 per cent higher at €457m according to Bord Bia. It noted the sector performed well in a competitive UK market throughout 2013 with shipments largely maintained at 83,000 tonnes. Higher average prices led to the value of trade rising by 11 per cent to reach €330m.

Bord Bia has also found that exports to the Continental EU markets continued to lose share to markets outside of Europe. For the year, exports to the Continent are estimated to have fallen by more than 14 per cent to around 36,000 tonnes and were worth an estimated €80m. It said stronger trade to Germany and France compensated for lower shipments to most other markets.

Aside from Australia, exports of Irish pigmeat to international markets performed strongly for much of the year according to Bord Bia. This was led by higher sales to Russia and solid shipments to China and the US. Russia was driven by a strong demand for legs, the absence of US and Canadian pork and the increased number of Irish plants approved. However, some of this growth was offset by reduced trade to Japan reflecting a slow belly demand.

For the year exports of Irish pigmeat to markets outside of the EU are estimated to have grown by 10 per cent to 66,000 tonnes. This trade was valued at an estimated €115m.

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