Visiting an international food trade fair and seeing how small Ireland really is on the world’s food maps is stunning.
Although we are small fry compared to Brazil and Australia, we have a strong position in the UK, the world’s most valuable beef market. Things that are often taken for granted.
As our farm profile for P10 details, the export of Irish beef to the UK is not overlooked by British farmers, which is a bit of a wonder.
Last year, it exported 214,000 tonnes to the UK and holds a normal market share of about 70% of imported goods. Irish beef also holds a strong position in the host of major UK retailers.
But that wasn’t always the case. For centuries, the beef trade with the United Kingdom has been characterized by the trade of raw cattle.
In the early 1970s, more than 800,000 cattle were shipped from Ireland to the United Kingdom each year.
Farmers today often welcome raw exports as a valuable competition for meat processors, but once they have caused a tremendous loss of value and economic activity for Ireland.
Fintan O’Toole writes that cow boats have become the perfect image of Irish freedom ambivalence.
It is surprising to think that this situation has moved to a situation where Irish processors are said to control the processing of 60% of British beef.
Changing the beef trade from “hooves” to “hooves” has definitely benefited Irish agriculture.
However, by focusing on finished products rather than raw cattle, it was also possible to leverage EU member states to target consumers in much larger and equally valuable markets.
The diminishing importance of the UK market to the Irish beef sector reflects the growing market gap, which is essential in the light of Brexit, but forgets how important the closest neighbor is still. Must not be.