Why growing US beef production could hit Irish beef exports

US beef production is expected to increase by 4% in 2017 and this may limit the amount of Irish beef sold into the ‘lucrative’ market.

According to Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects 2016-2017, this increase in production comes following growth of almost 6% in the volume of US beef last year.

This extra production, it says, was aided by stronger feeder cattle supplies coupled with increased carcass weights which were achieved due to lower feed costs.

Worryingly, the extra beef supplied by US finishers could have a negative impact on the volume of Irish beef crossing the Atlantic.

And, Bord Bia estimate that the additional production combined with slower consumption is likely to see the overall volume of beef imported into the US fall by 11% in 2017.

Irish beef exports into the US

As of early December, the volume of Irish beef shipped to the US market stood in the region of 3,800t since the market opened to exports in January 2015.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said an estimated 1,800t of Irish beef was exported in 2015, valued at €14m.

“This trade will be surpassed in 2016 because 2,000t have already been exported so far this year.

Sales are expected to increase as the trade becomes more established and trading relationships become bedded down.

He added the trade is entirely composed of intact cuts for now as Irish plants are not yet approved to export manufacturing beef.

This is despite Ireland gaining approval to export manufacturing beef (mince) to the US in July of this year.

“Beef plants that wish to be approved to export manufacturing beef to the US must implement in full the criteria agreed with the US before trade may commence and interested plants are currently working on completing these steps,” he said.