EU beef and veal exports amounted to 93,000t in the first half of 2016, reaching their highest level for five years, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

This represents at an increase of 16% compared to the same period last year, with the increase taking pressure off the EU beef market at a time when demand remains subdued and supplies are increasing, the AHDB said.

Increases in the level of exports were seen across markets such as Israel, Algeria, Vietnam and Ivory Coast, figures show.

Meanwhile, only small levels of growth was recorded with the EU's largest market, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has a market share of 15% of EU exports.

Reflecting that the EU trade is mainly in cheaper cuts, the average export price amounted to €3,386/t in the first six months of the year, down 3% on a year earlier, according to the AHDB, compared to the average EU import price for chilled and frozen beef amounting to €8,408/t.

Live cattle exports

Live cattle exports figures have more than doubled in the last two years with shipments, excluding breeding stock, from the EU between January to June of this year reaching 387,000 head, the AHDB said.

Of the major buyers, Turkey took 141,000 in the first half of 2016, whereas none were imported in the same period in 2014, according to the English beef and lamb organisation.

Live shipments to Israel have triple to 80,000 head between 2014 and 2016, while shipments to Libya and Egypt were also on the rise, AHDB figures show.

The Turkish Government organisation responsible for livestock and meat (ESK), opened tenders in early July for the delivery of 100,000 cattle weighing between 160 to 300kg.

These tenders are being split evenly between the EU and South America, the AHDB said, with Ireland due to commence shipments in the second half of September.

Turkey is a major importer of cattle, importing 100,000 head of EU origin cattle in the first four months of 2016. This market represents huge potential for Irish producers, according to the President of the Irish Farmers Association, Joe Healy.

Turkey is a major opportunity for the Irish livestock sector and has an import requirement for up to 400,000 head of live cattle annually.

“In 2015 Turkey imported 380,000 head of cattle, the majority from South America and up to 120,000 from France," Healy said.