The large opportunities that exist for the EU beef sector following the re-opening of the Turkish market have been confirmed by an increase in live exports this year, according to the European Commission.

In its latest outlook, it said the first half of 2015 showed an increase of 39% in live exports year-on-year.

Lebanon remains the main destination of live bovine animals, but the level of exports to Turkey is gradually increasing and reached the same quantity as Lebanon in the second quarter of 2015, according to the Commission.

It says the exact potential of live exports to Turkey remains difficult to predict, but the high beef prices in Turkey and the opening of a tariff rate quota (TRQ) for beef meat, give a positive market signal on the short term at least.

Therefore, the Commission forecasts that live exports are expected to further expand in 2015 to a level equivalent to 174,000t of beef and there is room for further increases also in 2016 as in the past (e.g. 2011-2012) monthly exports were above current levels.

However, it does warn that the recent outbreak of bluetongue in the French beef may have a negative impact on these projections.

Irish live exports fall

Figures from the Department of Agriculture and presented by Bord Bia show that total live cattle exports are back by 25.6% to date in 2015 which is a drop of 49,166 to September 12.

Irish weanling exports have fallen by 45.9% in 2015 which is a drop of almost 10,000 head of cattle on the same period in 2014, according to the latest figures.

The number of store cattle exports have also dropped by 18,180 (59.2%) while the total number of finished cattle and calves shipped are down by 16,091 (15.9%) and 5,291 (13.4%) respectively.