By FWi staff

IRISH beef exports have seen a massive drop in demand, by as much as 50% in some cases, according to the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia.

The organisation reckons that export-approved meat plants have slashed output by 10,000 head, compared with the previous month, due to the collapse in French and Spanish beef markets as BSE fears spread.

Contrary to concerns, trading with Britain is running at usual seasonal levels, which means threats of cheaper Irish beef ending up in the UK have not materialised.

And despite clamours for intervention to be re-opened, Bord Bia told FARMERS WEEKLY that “to date no tenders have been submitted by Irish meat plants”.

But it did confirm that export to other non-EU countries was up partly, it said, because of the Muslim festival of Ramadan.

This also ties in with news that the EU issued an extra 15% of export refunds last Friday – worth about 8p/kg – to help competitiveness of EU exports overseas.

On the home front, prices were down earlier this week by about 4-5p/kg, from levels reached before the French BSE crisis, at 83p/kg.

Being front page news, it has affected domestic beef demand, said Asdas beef buying manager, Will Andrews.

“It has taken a hit, but it is difficult to establish how much can be attributed to problems over the Channel.”

Overall, he said retail beef sales are down 10%, a figure that is reportedly mirrored throughout the retailers. But he said pig promotions in its stores were confusing sale figures.

farmersfield.co.uk