Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

We're eating more beef in Ireland, but European consumption remains stagnant

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Irish people are eating more beef, but no growth is expected in European consumption this year.

The only country with a significant increase in beef consumption last year was Ireland, where consumption levels were up 3.1pc.

EU beef consumption has been on the decline since 2007, and while volumes have picked up gradually since 2013 and are still rising slowly there is no predicted growth in consumption levels for this year in Europe. Beef consumption in Italy dropped by 3pc last year while France only saw consumption levels increase by 1.1pc.

And while Irish consumption of beef is 18.6kg/capita, ahead of the world average of 6.4kg/capita and the Chinese average of 3.8kg/capita, it remains miles behind some countries such as Uraguay where the average person eats over 45kg of meat every year.

Mark Zieg told Bord Bia’s Meat Marketing Seminar that the UK remains Ireland’s largest market for beef exports, accounting for 51pc of total exports. That is just 1pc lower than 2015 figures, with international markets in 2016 taking 1pc more in volume terms, but only accounting for 3pc of total Irish beef exports.

Outside the UK, France, Holland and Italy were the next biggest importers of Irish beef and total Irish beef exports were worth €2.38bn in 2016, he said.

Future growth, he said, for beef consumption would be driven by increased consumption in Africa and Asia.

Growth areas for increased Irish beef exports, within Europe, he said would be in Poland, the UK and Italy, while we can expect to see German demand drop.

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Figures presented by Bord Bia also show that while volumes of Irish beef exports were up last year, but their value was down.

And Ireland will have more beef to export next year as calf registration  numbers in 2016 were up, which will result in more prime cattle coming on stream for processing.

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