Kevin Kinsella, director of livestock, said Ireland has the potential to significantly grow live exports to the Italian market in particular from a base of 25,000 head in 2015.
Speaking at the Fieragricola trade fair in Verona, Italy, last week, he said Ireland in the past exported up to 75,000 head to Italy.
Feedlots importing Irish cattle into northern Italy have clearly recognised the significant improvement in the quality and the health status of these Irish animals.
“The recovery in the EU beef market, despite being slow, and lower grain prices, should boost demand for live exports of weanlings into the more intensive beef feeding systems in Italy and Spain,” he said.
Mr Kinsella said a strong live export trade is essential for price competition and to maximise market outlets. With Bord Bia forecasting 50,000 to 80,000 more cattle for sale in 2016, a vibrant live export trade was never more important, he said.
On market access and outlets, he said Ireland needs to prioritise the live export trade and focus on removing the barriers restricting the trade to Northern Ireland and Britain as well as securing access to international markets like Turkey and Egypt.
The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, the IFA and stakeholders in Ireland’s live cattle export sector joined with Bord Bia in promoting the quality of the livestock sector to international buyers at Fieragricola, Italy’s premier livestock event.
This year, Ireland was honoured with “Guest Country” status by the organisers due to the success of Bord Bia’s Origin Green exhibition at EXPO Milan.
Italy is also Ireland’s third largest export market for beef, with trade valued in the region of €185 million.