Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Ceisteanna (101)

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

168 Mr. J. Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the total beef output here for 2003; the total domestic consumption; the total beef exports and their destination; the total beef imports and their country of origin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7969/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture and Food)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below.

Irish Beef Market 2003 — Statistics

Summary

Exports

Production tonnes

Domestic Consumption

EU

Third Countries

Imports tonnes

560,000

60,000

415,000

85,000

13,000

Breakdown of Exports

Exports tonnes

UK

France

Italy

Holland

Scandinavia

Other EU

Russia

Other Third Countries

500,000

265,000

24,000

35,000

32,000

35,000

24,000

75,000

10,000

Total beef production in Ireland in 2003 was 560,000 tonnes. Of this, 60,000 tonnes were consumed on the domestic market and 500,000 tonnes were exported. This is the highest level of exports since 1999 and is 12% higher than 2002. The value of these beef exports was €1.28 billion.

The United Kingdom remained the principal market for Irish beef, accounting for more than half of total exports at 265,000 tonnes. Sales to continental EU markets represented 150,000 tonnes. Third country markets accounted for 85,000 tonnes.

The focus of the beef industry has been to broaden and expand its market reach at EU retail level, shifting its orientation away from international commodity markets and into the higher priced internal EU marketplace. This contrasts sharply with the position which prevailed throughout the 1990s when the industry exported 50% of its products into non-EU markets. Last year, this share dropped to just 17% while the EU share increased proportionately. These increased sales into continental Europe coincide with the emergence of an EU market deficit in beef for the first time in 25 years, together with falling production levels aligned with a strong recovery in consumption.

Ireland is now well placed to consolidate this position, having demonstrated the quality and safety of Irish beef through its broad appeal to EU consumers. A targeted approach based on quality production represents the best and most profitable way forward to the Irish industry. This in turn highlights the importance of good breeding policies, payment related to quality and modern techniques which mechanical grading will provide.

According to CSO statistics, some 13,088 tonnes of beef was imported into Ireland last year, 60% of which originated within the EU. It should be noted that imports may include the re-import of Irish product originally exported from this country. Imports from other member states may include imports of meat product already in free circulation in the EU but which originated in third countries through various GATT agreements. I emphasise that imports overall represented slightly more than 2% of total beef production in Ireland, whereas exports represent some 89%.