Bord Bia has released its Performance and Prospects report 2021/2022, which looks back at the state of Irish food and drink exports in the last 12 months, while also looking ahead to the next 12 and what to expect on the export front in 2022.
In terms of the latter – the prospects for 2022 – the outlook is “broadly positive”, Bord Bia says, though with “significant challenges” to overcome.
One of the main challenges is a growing consumer demand for sustainability, and Bord Bia argues that “future production growth will occur in the context of commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.
The global supply/demand relationship is set to remain positive for producer nations such as Ireland.
Where the UK market is concerned, it remains likely that the Withdrawal Agreement will be implemented in full, creating a new barrier of physical checks for exporting companies and “unclear amounts of bureaucracy”.
‘Gastro-nationalism’ in Europe is also an area to look out for according to Bord Bia, and consumer perception of a relationship between agriculture and the climate may be “fused with a drive to localism”.
Let’s look at the sectoral breakdown of the 2022 prospects:
Prospects for Dairy
Weaker European and Oceanic (Australia and New Zealand) milk output will see buyers looking to Ireland to secure supply in the early part of 2022.
Furthermore, it is thought that many exporters have closed 2021 with “limited or lean carry forward positions” to transfer into exports in the first quarter of this year.
For the second quarter and beyond, Bord Bia is “cautiously optimistic” about the outlook. Demand from China will be a key influence in this period, as will the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic (which is likely to alter the state of play for the food services sector and consumer demand).
Global dairy imports will be up 3.5% in 2022, according to models by financial services network StoneX. For Irish exporters, there will be “significant ambiguity” around the future developments in Covid-19 related disruptions, alongside the effect of currency fluctuations on customer sourcing preferences.
Although global milk output is forecasted to increase by an estimated 1.2% over the next five years, certain factors, including escalating costs; erratic weather events; the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); and the imposition of climate actions are expected to have a curbing effect on milk output in the medium to long term.
Prospects for Beef
The outlook for Irish beef exports to the EU and the UK “remains broadly positive for 2022”, the Irish food board said. The markets look set to be “relatively balanced” in terms of supply and demand.
Global market demand seems set to remain good, as global supplies look to be tight as a result of pressure on output from both North America and South America as a result of drought conditions in both regions in 2021.
Market demand from Britain – and the continuation of free access to that market – will heavily influence the demand for Irish beef.
While UK beef production is forecast to increase by 10,000t in 2022, there is also an expectation that import demand will be maintained at the 2021 level of 376,000t. Beef consumption there is forecast to decline by 2% to 2019 consumption levels.
Within this trend there is an expectation that there will be a sustained demand for Irish beef imports from the retail and quick service sectors.
Trade to the EU markets is expected to remain positive as consumption is largely maintained and the decline in European beef production is set to continue, with a drop of 1.4% anticipated by the EU Beef Forecast Working Group.
While it can be expected that there will be some growth in non-EU beef imports in 2022, the recovery in demand from the foodservice sector and greater exports to international markets should keep “largely positive market dynamics in place”.
Tighter global supplies of sheepmeat and the redistribution of global supplies have helped drive higher export values for Irish exporters and these trends seem set to continue in 2022.
However, one potential negative impact is the risk of declining visibility of lamb on the supermarket shelves in major lamb consuming countries within the EU, due to supply issues. This has the potential to negatively impact overall consumption of lamb in the EU.
Sheepmeat continues to have a strong association with Muslim and Christian festivals, with demand for sheepmeat increasing in the weeks prior to key celebrations.
Continuing uncertainty between the UK and the EU with regards to their trading arrangement has the potential to give Irish sheepmeat exporters further opportunities to grow market share in key EU markets.
Irish sheepmeat can match the UK in terms of product quality and, given the similar production systems, Irish exporters are best placed to capitalise on any current and future displacement in the market.
Poultry and pigmeat
Pigmeat prospects are challenged as the sector is particularly exposed to the increase in input costs being observed globally. The cost of production is likely to increase. At the same time, European consumption of pigmeat is declining and will continue to decline in 2022.
Nevertheless, the global import demand for 2022 is set to increase by over 2% to 11.9 million tonnes, reflecting the impact of lower domestic output in key regions. Chinese imports are expected to increase by around 5% during 2022, with their market share accounting for almost 40% of global imports.
The next two largest global importers, Japan and Mexico, are also expected to show marginally higher import demand in 2022.
The expected strength of international demand will boost prospects, although challenges in terms of production and operation costs seem set to remain.
For poultry, the outlook for the global poultry industry shows some signs of recovery as economies re-open. The foodservice channel has benefitted from this development, with this channel traditionally accounting for around one third of global poultry consumption.
EU forecasts expect European production to be 13.7 million tonnes in 2022, a return to growth following a slight decline in 2021. For Irish exporters, the status of trade with the UK will continue to be a determinant factor of the prospects for recovery and growth.
In addition, access to international markets, particularly South Africa, will be critical for achieving carcass balance and future growth.