Bord Bía report reveals tough UK export trade

Irish meat exports into the UK faced a very tough time last year, according to Aidan Cotter, chief executive, Bord Bía (Irish Food Board). The sterling/euro differential reduced their value by 30% over 2007. Sterling declined against the euro by 18% in 2008 and a further 12% in 2009.

Initially in 2008, as sterling declined, the Irish industry was compensated by price increases, but in 2009, as the recession took hold, this was not possible.

"The current economic climate means it is difficult to recover compensatory price increases from the (UK) market. There is huge reduction in consumer spending, bringing pressure to reduce prices and that environment is very difficult for suppliers, wherever they come from outside the sterling area. It has been a major issue," Cotter told Meat Trades Journal.

There has also been a move from more expensive roasting joints to cheaper beef cuts in the downturn. For example, mince now accounts for more than 50% of retail beef sales in the UK.

In 2009 alone, exports of beef from Ireland to the UK fell by 6% to 245,000t, with trade valued at 660m (£580.3m). In total 31,000t fewer were exported to Continental Europe, but this trade was valued at 735m/£646.2m (75m/£65.9m more).

Cotter said that UK and Continental Europe remained the most significant markets for Irish meat. According to statistics revealed in Bord Bía's Performance and Prospects 2009-2010, published on 13 January 2010, Irish beef products are now sold in 72 supermarket chains and premium foodservice outlets throughout the UK and Europe.

The report also stated that Irish pigmeat markets and customers had returned to normal patterns, following the dioxin scare in late 2008.

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