Speaking at the Bord Bia Live export seminar in Tullamore this week, IFA National Livestock chairman Henry Burns said the prospects for the live export trade look positive for 2014 for calves, weanlings and store cattle.
He said the live trade has the potential to grow substantially again this year. Mr Burns outlined how the live export trade grew by 31% in 2013, with a total of 209,481 animal exported. The total value of live exports was in excess of €240m. Live export trade for sheep was also very positive in 2013 with exports doubling to over 68,000 head in 2013.
The IFA Livestock leader stated that a key feature of the live trade in 2013 was the reopening of the trade to Libya and North Africa for the first time in 16 years. He said IFA pushed very hard to reopen these markets and succeeded in 2013.
Prospects look positive in 2014 with exports to Spain and Italy expected to grow, driven by stronger beef prices and a reduction in feed costs. Beef production in Spain is expected to increase driving demand for more live imports and Spanish live exports to North Africa are also expected to grow. Lower grain and feed costs will boost the trade to both Italy and Spain.
Henry Burns said calf exports to Holland have the potential to increase substantially in 2014. Henry Burns said Ireland has the potential to export 150,000 to 180,000 head of calves in 2014.
He noted that one of the big challenges for 2014 will be to open up the live export trade to the UK. He said Minister Coveney and Bord Bia “have to act strongly to break the stranglehold the factories and retailers have on the market and secure free and open access for Irish farmers and exporters”. In a positive development, he said an announcement on a new ferry route to the UK is expected in early 2014.
The IFA Livestock Leader said the live trade is vitally important for price competition and market outlets across all sections of the livestock trade including calves, weanlings and store cattle. He said the absence of a live trade for finished cattle, particularly to the UK is a major problem that must be addressed with an unacceptable large beef price differential between Irish and UK cattle prices.
Live export trade for sheep is expected to be strong again in 2014, driven by tighter EU production, lower New Zealand supplies and growing demand around the Muslim festivals.