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Written Answers - Beef Exports

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 197.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the markets currently showing great potential for growth at EU or worldwide level for Irish beef and beef products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7459/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Ireland exports some 90% of its beef production and around 96% of beef exports go to other EU Member States. The EU is only 96% self-sufficient in beef production and consumer demand for beef is expected to further exceed EU production in the coming years. Irish beef exports were valued at €1.8 billion in 2011 but overall export volumes to particular destinations in a particular period will vary in response to demand/supply dynamics in specific markets which in turn is influenced by such factors as product innovation, changing consumption patterns, competitor behaviour and currency fluctuations. Exchange rate movements, for example, are especially significant for the development of trade with our largest single market — the UK.

The UK remains a key target market by virtue of its size and proximity. In 2011, it accounted for almost half of total export volumes with an estimated 235,000 tonnes valued at €810m, which was an increase of €50m on 2010 levels. Of the Continental European markets, which accounted for an estimated 237,000 tonnes valued at €920m, Germany is seen to offer promising opportunities for export growth. Exports to Germany in 2011 are estimated to have increased by more than 5,000 tonnes to reach 15,000 tonnes. There is also a growing trade in beef and beef offals to the Russian Federation and Far Eastern markets such as Vietnam. Exports of Irish beef to international markets in 2011 benefitted from stronger import demand with shipments rising by around 30% to 20,000 tonnes and were worth around €70m.

Other long-term targets include, but are not limited to, the Chinese and Japanese markets and my Department is engaging actively with the authorities in those countries, amongst others, in order to secure access for our beef products. Last year I hosted a visit from the Chinese Vice Minister for Agriculture and signed a mutual co-operation agreement in the agri-food sector which I hope will help to build the kind of confidence in Irish agri-food production and control systems that will provide a platform for improved trading relationships into the future.

[196]The market prospects for 2012 are reasonably positive given the likely supply/demand dynamics at work in both the domestic and EU beef markets in 2012. But there are considerable downside risks associated with developments in the macro-economic environment and uncertainty surrounds the prospects for consumer demand generally. However, I will continue to work closely with the beef industry, through Bord Bia and with the assistance of the international network of Irish Embassies, to raise the international profile of Ireland and the Irish agri-food sector in order to facilitate increased exports in traditional and emerging markets.


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