South American imports a threat to beef incomes, warns Bord Bia
The threat of increased beef imports into Europe from Argentina could erase any benefits that accrue to Irish farmers from lower EU beef production in 2019.
Bord Bia meat specialist Joe Burke told delegates at its Meat Marketing seminar that Irish beef exports could benefit from a 2pc decrease in EU beef production this year.
"For 2019 there's expected to be a net decline of 1.7pc or a return to 2017 levels [of supply] as some of our key markets are forecasting declines in production which will hopefully work in our favour," Mr Burke told the seminar.
"Production in France will be down 3.7pc, Germany down 2.9pc, UK down 2.3pc. This will have a significant impact on their import demands," he said.
However, Bord Bia markets specialist Mark Zieg pointed out that imports from South America into the EU increased sharply last year, with supplies from Brazil up 22pc and Argentina 40pc higher.
Mr Zieg said Argentina is "aggressively targeting" the EU market, with beef exports to the EU set to rise by 15pc for 2019.
He said such a move puts Ireland in a vulnerable position given the possibility of a Mercosur deal being secured which would further increase EU market access for South American beef.
"It's something that we need to be watching very strongly. We have seen a couple of successive years of Argentina increasing their overall exports.