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Exports of Irish Meat and Livestock exceed €4 billion in 2022

Exports of Irish Meat and Livestock Img.jpg

Source: Bord Bia - Joe Burke, Senior Manager - Meat and Livestock, presenting at the recent Bord Bia Meat Marketing Seminar

The value of Irish meat and livestock exports grew by 15% in 2022, and reached over €4 billion for the first time. In addition to this impressive figure, Bord Bia’s recent Export Performance and Prospects report recorded a 30% increase in exports of value added meats, which totalled €925 million. This category is captured under Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF).

This strong sector performance was driven in particular by higher output levels and average prices within the beef and sheepmeat sectors: which recorded increases in export values of 18% and 17%, respectively. Attendees at Bord Bia’s recent Meat Marketing Seminar were keen to review the sectoral trends, and to gain insight on likely market developments for the year ahead.



In the case of the Irish beef sector, exports of primary beef products were valued at more than €2.5 billion, up from just over €2.1 billion the previous year. Lower production in Europe led to tighter beef supplies in the first half of 2022. Demand was especially strong for forequarter and manufacturing beef, although the more premium steak cuts struggled somewhat as a result of growing food inflation concerns.

Overall, Irish beef exports to Continental European markets grew by 26% in 2022, accounting for 50% of the overall value of this trade. Key destinations included France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Meanwhile, Irish beef exports to the UK increased by 15%, and this market accounted for a 43% share of Irish beef exports in value terms.

Following higher production last year, Irish cattle supplies look set to remain relatively tight for the first half of 2023, and to fall by 2-3% for the year. Elsewhere in Europe, a similar situation is forecast, with notable reductions in cattle availability expected in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The cost-of-living crisis is expected to continue to impact on consumer demand for beef, with the EU Commission forecasting a 1.5% decline in consumption.



In relation to Irish sheepmeat, the value of exports reached €475 million: an increase of 17%. In fact, 2022 was the third successive year when exports rose by more than 15%. Continental EU markets remained the primary destination for Irish sheepmeat exports, accounting for almost three quarters of exports in value terms. France continues to be the largest market for Irish lamb, while exports to Germany and Sweden also grew strongly. Exports to the UK market also grew by 15%.

Despite price pressure at farm level, the market outlook for Irish sheepmeat remains broadly positive for 2023, as global supplies are expected to see very little change. European markets have recently been impacted by some more UK sheepmeat becoming available, as well as imports from the southern hemisphere. A seasonal uplift in demand is expected around the key religious festivals with Ramadan beginning on the 22nd of March, Easter on the 9th of April and Eid al-Adha on the 28th of June. However, as a high-cost protein, lamb is also vulnerable to reduced consumer spending power.



Although pig producers experienced very significant cost pressure throughout the year, Irish pigmeat exports increased by 2% in 2022 to €540 million. Improvement in average prices helped to offset a slight reduction in export volumes.

Global demand for pigmeat continued to be challenged by Covid-19 restrictions of the foodservice channel in a number of key regions. A recovery in Chinese domestic production negatively impacted on import demand and prices. As a result, Irish pigmeat exports to China fell by 31% in value terms. This decline was largely offset by higher exports to other international markets including Australia, the Philippines, the US and South Korea, which collectively recorded value growth of 40%.

For 2023, global pigmeat production is forecast to grow by 1% as China’s output recovers further. However, ongoing herd health challenges there, could impact producers’ willingness to invest. In addition, EU producer sentiment will be heavily influenced by volatility in the feed and energy markets.


Poultry Meat

Irish poultry exports grew by 14% to €143 million during 2022, as stronger prices helped to offset slightly lower export volumes. The UK remained a key market accounting for €85 million, or a 59% share of exports by value.

Similar to the pigmeat sector, volatile feed and energy costs look set to remain significant operational challenges, alongside outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AI). The weaker economic climate, leading to more price-driven consumer behaviour, is likely to benefit poultry consumption for the year ahead.



The value of Irish livestock exports grew by 8% in 2022 to reach an estimated €230 million. There were approximately 287,000 head of live cattle exported, which represented a 16% increase. This was driven by higher numbers of calves and weanlings traded. However, there were fewer exports of more valuable store animals and finished cattle, particularly to Northern Ireland.

There were approximately 430,000 live pigs exported to Northern Ireland last year, which represented a decline of 7%, while exports of live sheep remained very low, at approximately 15,000 head.

To read more about the performance in exports of Irish food, drink and horticulture and prospects for 2023, please click on the below link: https://www.bordbia.ie/globalassets/bordbia.ie/industry/2022---2023-export-performance--prospects-final.pdf