The largest market by volume for Irish beef outside the EU and UK in 2020 was the Philippines, according to Bord Bia’s annual report for 2020.

The Philippines market – which accounted for over €53 million in sales, was not the largest in value terms, but a large amount of lower-price cuts were exported to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the UK remained as Ireland’s most important beef export market by value decreasing by 1% compared to 2019 to €835 million.

In 2020, UK cattle supplies were tight and increased demand at retail across virtually all cuts, led to more ‘retail specification’ Irish beef shipped to the UK market.

However, the closure of the food-service channel for significant portions of the year reduced the value available.

The UK now accounts for 44% of Irish beef exports in value terms, compared to 51% in 2016.

EU markets collectively absorbed €835 million of Irish beef exports during the year. This represented an 8% drop in export value to the EU and reflected the consumption difficulties compounded by the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

In the key markets of France, Italy and Germany, there were decreases of 10%, 11% and 3% respectively.

The EU countries accounted for 45% of exports, a drop of 2% over 2019.

In light of this, exporters availed of opportunities in global markets, especially in Asia, to balance a disrupted trade pattern in the UK and Europe.

As a result, international markets continued to deliver export growth opportunities, with values reaching €207 million in export revenue and accounting for 11% of trade, an increase from 3% of the total in 2016.

The mainland Chinese market provided “excellent growth” in the first half of the year where beef exports between January and May were 133% up on 2019 values.

However, exports were affected by a suspension of import permission resulting from the detection of a case of atypical BSE in an animal in Ireland.

Despite this, the value of exports to mainland China reached €23 million. At the same time, beef exports to Hong Kong reached €22 million.