Live cattle exports to Britain down by nearly 70% – Bord Bia

The number of cattle exported from the Republic of Ireland to Britain has dropped by nearly 70% during the first four months of the year, according to Bord Bia.

Recent figures from Bord Bia show that there have been 2,101 fewer cattle exported from Ireland to Britain to the week ending April 30 compared to the corresponding period in 2015.

Earlier this year, Irish live exports to the UK were back by 10% between January and March on the corresponding period in 2015.

And, it also shows that the number of cattle crossing the border to Northern Ireland is also down considerably.

Irish live cattle exports to Northern Ireland are down by almost 40% or 7,259 head during the first four months of 2016 on 2015 levels.

The importance of the UK market

The UK is a major market for Irish beef and it accounted for 52% of all Irish beef exports in 2015, valued at more than €1 billion.

However, since the beginning of the year Sterling has weakened, with the most recent figures from the European Central Bank showing €1 purchases 79p. In the first week of the year €1 bought 74p Sterling.

Source: European Central Bank

According to Bord Bia, the decline in live cattle exports to the UK has occurred due to a weaker Sterling and a lower UK cattle price.

It says that a weaker Sterling makes Irish cattle more expensive to UK buyers and, as a result they are focusing on purchasing domestically produced stock.

The British beef price has also declined this year, falling to its lowest level in five years.

However, the UK cattle trade has showed some signs of steadying in recent weeks, with the average UK beef price only falling 1p/kg two weeks ago.

But, the UK and Irish R3 heifer price remains relatively close. Figures from the European Commission show that UK R3 heifers were 5c/kg dearer than R3 heifers slaughtered in Ireland during the week ending April 24.