Farm Ireland

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Live exports to Turkey on track for 50,000 hd

Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin

Irish exports to Turkey could top 50,000hd this year, according to industry commentators.

While Turkish buyers took around 30,000hd in 2017, industry sources claimed there is potential to grow this number substantially.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed visits Turkey tomorrow with a delegation that includes the country's main cattle exporters and Bord Bia.

The Irish party is to attend the 13th International Agriculture and Livestock Exhibition in Izmir, where they are scheduled to meet the Turkish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Mr Ahmet Fakibaba, and local livestock importers.

Although contracts for cattle exports have not been agreed for 2018, Joe Burke of Bord Bia said the market could possibly take 50,000hd.

"Not long ago we were exporting 70,000 weanlings to Italy, so it should be possible to do 50,000hd to Turkey, as long as we are organised," Mr Burke said. He pointed out that the bulk of the Irish stock were shipped in the back end of last year, and the delivery of suitable cattle earlier in the year will be crucial to growing numbers for the Turkish market.

Tight spec

The tight specifications for the Turkish contracts - the cattle must be under 12 months of age and less than 300kg - seriously limited the number of suitable stock last year.

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ICSA suckler chair John Halley welcomed the support Minister Creed is providing to exporters.

"For too long, there was an imbalance whereby meat exports were actively supported by Government trade missions, while live exports were left to sink or swim. Minister Creed has demonstrated a real commitment to reversing that," Mr Halley said.

The ICSA representative claimed that Ireland needed to double the level of exports to Turkey to ensure competition in the marts for weanlings from the suckler herd.

"The importance of Turkey to sucklers cannot be underestimated. The future for sucklers will be determined by live exports to lucrative markets," Mr Halley said.

"Overall exports of weanlings and stores in 2017 was about 59,000 head, along with 100,000 calves, but this must be seen against the rapid increase in cow numbers in Ireland driven by dairy expansion," he said.

"It is absolutely vital therefore that every possible support is given to live exports and that we have ships available when they are needed to go where they are needed."

Meanwhile, IFA livestock chair Angus Woods said the visit was an opportunity to build on the numbers exported in 2017.

Mr Woods said a target of increasing live exports by an additional 100,000hd this year was essential given the lift in cow and calf numbers from the dairy herd.

Turkey imports 500,000 cattle each year, with around 200,000 supplied from Europe, and 300,000hd from South America.

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