Brexit chaos sees beef exports to UK slump

Retail buyers are refusing to agree long-term supply contracts with UK meat exporters. Photo: Getty Images
Retail buyers are refusing to agree long-term supply contracts with UK meat exporters. Photo: Getty Images
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Irish beef exports to the UK slumped a significant 12pc in June, according to the latest UK customs data.

Exports to the UK fell to 15,000t for the month, as a weakening pound, and a falling domestic beef price has seen a fall in demand for imports so far in 2019.

Coupled with this, sources in the beef industry have also highlighted that large amounts of beef in storage towards the start of the year due to Brexit stockpiling maybe gradually coming back on to the market.

Overall UK fresh/frozen beef imports for the year to date are 124,500t are also down 12pc compared to the year earlier.

MII (Meat Industry Ireland), which represents processors, has highlighted that British retailers are increasingly unwilling to confirm orders for the autumn as Brexit uncertainty leaves the market in limbo.

"As Irish processors and exporters seek to establish some forward sales plans with customers, this is being frustrated by the uncertainty attached to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit outcome resulting in an unwillingness by customers to commit," said MII senior director Cormac Healy.

He added that the sector is facing "extremely challenging market conditions" because of Brexit, and maintained that Brexit and the prospect of a no-deal outcome are to blame for weak beef and cattle prices.

It comes as Irish beef prices saw the strongest decline recorded across the EU's beef markets during the last month.

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IFA President Joe Healy said with Brexit just 70 days away, strong EU and Government support is urgently required for beef farmers who are in the middle of a severe income crisis.

“IFA made it very clear to Minister Creed additional EU and Government Brexit supports and direct aid for farmers are urgently required," he said.

Meanwhile, farmers claims that they only receive €2 in every €10 consumers of beef in retail outlets has been rejected by meat processors.

Fresh from an agreement to resolve a beef dispute which saw the meat processing sector grind tp a halt for two weeks claims by the Beef Plan Movement over the division of the retail beef prices has drawn the ire of meat processors.

The group's Vice Chairman Hugh Doyle has previously said the beef industry is on life support at the moment and told the farmers present that in 1995 they received 40pc of the retail price for beef, but today they only receive 19pc.

Beef Plan has called for a 'fair beef price' to be established, to create a ratio that the primary producer receives.

Meat Industry Ireland said suggestions that farmers receive 20pc of every €10 spent by consumers of beef in retail outlets are inaccurate. 

"In fact, the producer share of retail beef prices is closer to two-thirds,” Cormac Healy of MII said.

“Based on independently published data on Irish retail sales prices, on the mix of beef cuts purchased by Irish consumers and the yield factors involved, the actual price paid to beef producers represents 63pc of the average retail beef price on a carcase weight equivalent basis.

"This can be independently verified,” he claimed.

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