The value or Irish sheepmeat exports rose to €220 million last year, up from €212 million in 2012. According to Bord Bía’s Declan Fennell, who was interviewed on RTE radio this morning, France and the UK account for 65% of all off-shore lamb and sheepmeat sales. However, countries such as Belgium and Sweden are increasingly becoming destination for high value Irish lamb cuts.

And this trend seems likely to be maintained during the period ahead . According to Declan Fennell North African counties are likely to become outlets for live sheep exports from Ireland. “Last year saw Libya importing live sheep from Ireland for the first time.”

The Bord Bía representative went on to point out that the international growth in Irish lamb sales reflects the very positive image of the product abroad. “And we want to build on this for the future. The reality is that we are providing a fresh product on to the European market. The opportunity to grow market share in a number of European countries outside the traditional destinations of the UK and France is an extremely exciting prospect,” he said.

Declan Fennell also confirmed that New Zealand is putting less sheepmeat onto European markets, than would have previously been the case. This reflects the contraction that country’s sheep sector and the fact that China is now the main destination for Kiwi lamb and sheepmeat exports.

“There is an insatiable demand for sheepmeat in China at the present time,” he stressed.

Seasonal demand for lamb is inextricably linked with religious festivals held in countries around the world at different rimes of the year. Easter is the big driver for sales in Christian countries. However, in the Muslim world, there is a strong linkage between lamb sales and the month-long season of Ramadan. It takes place this year between June 28 and July 27.