Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said that exports of high-quality Irish meat saw a very strong performance during 2021 in the Bord Bia report despite the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, post-Brexit trade complexities and labour shortages.

MII senior director Cormac Healy said: “The ability of Irish meat exporters to capitalise on improved market conditions is based on the years of effort in building the best profile of customers for Irish meat, on tireless work to diversify our export markets, and on Irish producers’ and processors’ focus on delivering a high-quality, safe and sustainable meat offering.”

Bord Bia’s export performance and prospects report showed that while the overall volume of exports reduced slightly due to lower production, the value of Irish meat exports grew by over €150m, or 4%.

This was reflected in higher producer prices, particularly for beef and lamb, and despite the market challenges on pigmeat, we still saw Irish pig prices outperform most of our EU competitors, MII has said.

Different factors

Better market conditions facilitated the delivery of stronger prices for beef and lamb producers.

According to MII these market conditions were determined by a number of key factors:

  • Better market balance in the supply-demand dynamic, with lower production levels in the UK and EU markets benefitting Irish producers.
  • A reduced level of meat imports into the EU market from global suppliers also had a significant positive impact on the tone of the market.;
  • Despite ongoing disruption to the restaurant and food-service segment of the market due to the pandemic, consumers have maintained their purchasing of meat through retail for in-home dining. Strong consumer engagement with the meat category throughout the pandemic remains a real encouragement.
  • The future

    Looking ahead to 2022, MII believes that there are a number of key issues to focus on:

  • Sustainability agenda – Irish livestock and meat production has strong sustainability credentials but the challenge to our sector as with other parts of the economy, is to continue to work to deliver reduced emissions.
  • Brexit changes – Further complexities and the mid-year introduction of new UK import controls could have a negative impact on trading patterns.
  • Cost competitiveness – Rising energy cost together with wider inflationary pressures could potentially lead to dampening consumer sentiment as well as impacting cost competitiveness for exporters.
  • International market access – The pandemic largely stalled progress on our ambitions to broadening international market access for Irish meat. With the prospect of some new inward inspection missions taking place in early 2022, we are hopeful that new markets can be secured in the months ahead. A top priority, however, is the resumption of Irish beef access to the Chinese market, which has now been suspended for almost two years.
  • “The meat and livestock sector remains a cornerstone of Ireland’s export economy and is particularly important to the economic well-being of rural Ireland,” added Cormac Healy.