Lets ‘wait and see’ say farmers to US beef market opening
Farmers will take a ‘wait and see’ approach when it comes to assessing the impact of the news that Irish beef can be exported to the United States, according to ICSA Chief Executive Eddie Punch.
“In theory this all good news,” he said.
However, Punch warned that in reality the Irish beef industry has a terrible track record when it comes to developing new markets.
“We have had numerous government announcements over the past two years regarding the opening of new export market opportunities for Irish beef, all of which have come to nothing,” he said.
Punch went on to confirm that US beef producers were receiving the equivalent of €4.50/kg in the run up the New Year.
“So the potential to sell Irish, grass-fed beef into that market is significant. After all, 40m US citizens claim Irish ancestry. So we are knocking at a half open door when it comes to marketing beef from this part of the world on to that market,” he said.
“What’s required now is a sustained marketing campaign on the part f the beef industry so as t ensure that all of this potential is fully realised.”
IFA President Eddie Downey has also welcomed the news that the US market has opened to Irish beef exports, but said that its significance will be judged by farmers securing improved beef prices from the market place in 2015.
Downey also pointed out that the major increase in US beef prices, up by €1/kg in the last year and now at €4.70/€4.80/kg, must present a real opportunity for Irish grass-based beef exports.
The IFA President said Irish cattle prices are rising and combined with much tighter supplies in 2015, price prospects look much more promising for beef farmers.
Prices have opened stronger with a base of €4.00/kg for steers and €4.05/4.10 base for heifers. He said factories are already finding it difficult to procure tighter supplies and some top prices of €4.20 to €4.40/kg for specialist lots have been paid,” he commented.
ICMSA Livestock Committee Chairman Michael Guinan struck a more positive note. He said that the news would be welcomed as a positive beginning to a year in which beef prices were expected to make a substantial recovery.
According to Guinan congratulations were due to Minister Coveney and his team for persisting with what were undoubtedly intensive negotiations.
“But the fundamental reason why Ireland had been selected first for re-entry to the US Beef Market was the excellence and high standard of our product due to the hard work and technical competence of Irish farmers,” he said.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has welcomed the news saying that individual Irish beef processing companies have been working on developing new customer contacts and potential outlets for some time.
From a business perspective, we believe that the US market will ultimately be a high value/low volume niche market, principally for Irish grass-fed steak cuts, it said in a statement.
However, MII said at present, due to lower than normal beef production in the US, there is opportunity to potentially export greater volumes, including manufacturing beef, in the course of 2015 and hopefully 2016, while US herd rebuilding is underway.
Niall Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats said the opening of the US is clearly a positive for the beef sector in Ireland being such a major beef market, and the Minister and his officials deserve credit for securing Ireland’s position as the first European beef exporter allowed access back into the US.
“We believe there is a considerable opportunity for Dawn Meats and Irish beef based on our customer visits and meetings in the US over the last two years, and we will be focussing on the premium end of the market where grass-fed beef is increasing in popularity.”