Beef sector warnings as live export trade collapses
Exports down by 30,000 head on 2015 leads to fears of a perfect storm over next 12 months
Live exports have slumped as the combined impact of a weaker sterling, sluggish demand on the Continent, and a lack of progress on opening the Turkish market hit the trade.
Numbers are down by over 20pc since the start of 2016, but the decline has accelerated in the second quarter with a drop of more than 30pc in recent weeks.
It has resulted in nearly 30,000 fewer animals being exported in 2016 compared to 2015, with the exports to Britain down by 70pc, and trade with the North back by 1,000hd per week.
Exports outside of Europe have dried up completely, and live exporters that bought thousands of light stores in anticipation of the opening of the Turkish market are worried that delays will result in the weanlings missing the specifications required for this market.
"We were told that the market would be open by the first week in May. A lot of exporters have hundreds of animals waiting in yards that are now in danger of being too old or heavy to meet the buyer's requirements," said one source.
Expectations had been raised within the industry about the opportunity in Turkey when French stock were excluded from the burgeoning market this year.
However, France has subsequently become a bigger competitor in traditional Irish markets in Italy and Spain, as it looks for new markets for the 120,000hd that it sold into the Turkish market last year.
"At this rate, 2017 could see Irish cattle supplies reach their highest levels for more than a decade," said Bord Bia's beef analyst, Joe Burke.