18pc fall in beef exports to France as sales drop

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Irish beef exports to France fell by 18pc in the opening four months of the year, Bord Bia has reported.

A significant lift in the French cattle kill and lower consumption were blamed for the fall-off in exports to Ireland's second-biggest market.

A severe drought in France has resulted in a sharp increase in cattle disposals, as farmers struggle to keep grass and feed ahead of stock.

Recent statistics reveal a 7.7pc lift in French beef production for the first four months of the year to almost 465,000t.

According to Joe Burke, of Bord Bia, there has been an increase in all slaughter categories in France for this period, with young bull numbers 6.2pc higher, while the cow kill rose by 6.7pc.

Another consequence of the feed scarcity was that live cattle exports also increased by 7.5pc.

"This reflects higher numbers of young animals sold along with reduced demand from domestic buyers," Mr Burke said.

Average prices received for U grade Charolais and Limousin weanling bulls are running almost €0.20/kg behind last year's levels, at €2.45/kg liveweight.

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French consumption has also taken a hit. A 4.1pc decline in beef volumes sold at retail up to the middle of May, compared with the corresponding period last year, has been recorded.

However, average prices were slightly higher.

"Reduced consumption and higher production meant that there was a greater volume of beef available for export," Mr Burke said.

"French beef exports grew by 24pc in the January to April period, when almost 77,000t of product were exported."

France is the second most important market for Irish beef exports after Britain.

CSO figures show that the French market accounted for more than 54,000t last year. However, Irish beef sales to France for January to April this year have been 18pc lower.

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