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Turkish delight for beef sector

Beef processors have been urged to grasp the opportunity presented by the opening of the Turkish market for Irish beef.

An agreement between the Department of Agriculture and Turkish authorities on a veterinary health certificate will allow Irish beef from animals aged 30 months and below to be exported there.

IFA president John Bryan described the opening of the Turkish market as "very positive" and said it would give further impetus to local beef prices.

Mr Bryan said that access to the high-priced Turkish market had already had a major impact on the beef market across Europe, as German cattle prices improved by up to €200/hd on the back of more exports to Turkey.

This view was echoed by the ICSA's Gabriel Gilmartin. He called on meat processors and Bord Bia to make every effort to secure Turkish markets.


"Turkey gives a much-needed opportunity for processors to diversify their customer base and thereby improve their bargaining position with existing customers, such as British and EU retailers," Mr Gilmartin said.

"This opportunity must be grabbed with both hands, especially given the exceptionally high price that has emerged in Turkey in recent months."

Beef prices in Turkey have topped €8/kg despite a sharp increase in imports over the past 12 months, which followed a cut in import duties on beef from 225pc to 30pc.

Industry analysts estimate that total Turkish beef imports have exceeded 80,000t over the past year, with live cattle imports running close to 150,000hd.

Quoting a report compiled by the USDA, Bord Bia's Peter Duggan said that Turkish cattle supplies fell by 19pc between 2000 and 2009, and now stood at 1.7m head, while beef output dropped by around 5pc to 342,000t.

With the Turkish population growing by 14pc, to more than 75m since 2000, demand for beef had risen significantly, Mr Duggan claimed.

Speaking to the Farming Independent recently, Meat Industry Ireland's Cormac Healy expected small volumes of Irish beef to go to Turkey.

He said Irish processors were more likely to go after the holes left in the European market by those following the Turkish trade, a view shared by Slaney Meats chief Rory Fanning and Dawn Meats' Paul Nolan.


The fact that all cattle going to Turkey will have to be tested for BSE -- although only cattle under 30 months of age will qualify for the trade -- has been cited as a serious impediment.

In addition, the bulk of the stock will have to be killed according to Halal traditions, which effectively excludes processors with major British retail contracts because of the sensitivities surrounding this slaughter method.

The ongoing shortage of cattle supplies is another factor. Most of the major processors are committed to supplying significant contracts with British and continental retailers, and would struggle to source sufficient stock for further outlets.

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith reiterated his commitment to gaining access to as many markets as possible for Irish meat exporters.

He said last year had been a successful one, with the reopening of the Chinese and Russian markets for pigmeat. In addition, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisian and Moroccan markets had reopened for beef, the Moroccan market for live cattle and sheepmeat, and South Korea for breeding pigs.

Indo Farming