Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

Veal doubt as Dutch pull aid

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Irish calf exports face a major challenge this year since the withdrawal of the veal slaughter subsidy in Holland on January 1.

The subsidy, worth €33 per white veal calf and €66 per rosé veal calf, equated to a price boost of around 30c/kg on a 200kg calf.

Veal price remained fairly constant throughout last year, at 420c/kg, while costs of production were around 400c/kg.

Despite the loss of this direct payment, Irish calf exporter Adam Buitelaar believes the trade for Irish calves this year will remain on a par with 2009.

According to Bord Bia, 123,451 calves were exported live from Ireland in 2009, an increase of 66,501 on the previous year. "The loss of the subsidy will make it a bit more difficult for Irish calves but my feeling is that the trade will be much the same as last year," Mr Buitelaar said.

Calf numbers in Ireland are also expected to increase this year, potentially adding more supply to the market.


"There are several pointers that the veal market in 2010 will be down but I believe the market will hold up," he said.

Also Read

The calf exporter warned that rising milk prices posed the biggest threat to the veal market.

"A white veal calf will consume 360kg of milk powder up to slaughter, compared to a calf reared to beef that only consumes 25kg of milk powder.

"Any increase in milk price will drive up the cost of veal production significantly.

"If the price of milk powder rose by €5/bag, that would be a significant cost increase when applied to 15 bags of milk powder per calf," he said.

However, he added that rising milk prices would more than compensate the dairy farmer for the lower veal price.

"A rise in milk price would be more positive overall for the farmer," he said.

The Carlow-based exporter is currently buying calves for export to Holland within the next fortnight. Although there are very few calves in the marts yet, he predicted prices in the range of €60 for a young 14-day calf up to €120 for a strong month-old calf.

Irish Independent