Thursday, 9 May 2019

Questions (131)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

131. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the future viability of the pig and pigmeat industry with particular reference to access to existing or alternative markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20288/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Irish pigmeat exports increased by 5% year-on-year in 2018 to a value of €832m.

Ireland’s largest export market by far was the UK, accounting for roughly 57% (worth €471m) of the total, followed by China, at 9%. Trade to other international third party markets reached €117m, or 14% of total export value. The rest of the EU accounted for 19% of export totals.

The growth in the pig sector must also be viewed over the medium term coming at as it did from a base of €330 million export value in 2010 the sector has shown exceptional growth – clear evidence of the accurate direction and focus of the Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 strategies.

Chinese imports are expected to increase compared to 2019 potentially providing a boon for exporting slaughter plants. Indeed, pig prices have increased markedly since the beginning of this year as increasing import demand from China has materialised over the last couple of months. However, longer term much will depend on the continuing African Swine Fever (ASF) situation both within China, and across the EU, trade relations between China and the US and competition from peer-exporting nations.

Expanding access into new markets such as Mexico and further penetration of lucrative markets like Japan and South Korea will be the primary goals for Irish exporters this year. The recent announcement of new Agriculture Attaché posts in Mexico City, Tokyo and Seoul underlines my Department's commitment to pursuing and further developing opportunities for Irish pigmeat exporters in international markets.

These and other factors such as farm viability, global market share and a stable animal health situation will determine sectorial prosperity in the years to come. The Department will continue to work closely with the sector and, by focusing on insight-led growth strategies, to take advantage of opportunities for Irish pig meat exporters on international markets.