Live exports will not provide the complete solution to low prices for beef in Ireland, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney who made the comments in Paris at the biennial food trade show SIAL.

The Minister stated that there are a whole series of reasons why beef prices in Europe haven’t had a good year.

“Anybody that suggests that there is a simplistic answer to this around a massive increase in live cattle exports – I’m not sure they understand the economics of it.”

The Minister did say that there is a need to keep factories honest in the marketplace and believes the live cattle trade can do that very effectively.

However, he outlined that if live cattle exports are to increase the price of processed beef, then you have to get a higher price for you live animals than you are getting at home.

“The assumption that by live exporting cattle prices automatically means prices go up that is not always the case.”

The Minister also said that it often depends what markets you are selling into. “We have been selling some cattle to North Africa where there is a reasonably-strong market but it’s not always without its complications though in terms of stability.

“I am supportive of the live cattle trade we are trying to facilitate it. But the preference, of course, should be getting the best price as you can while also processing and adding value at home. That’s where you can create more jobs in processing, in packing, new innovate products.”