Poland exported 20% of all EU beef shipments between January and March

Poland was the largest exporter of beef from the European Union between January and March of this year, according to figures from the AHDB (the organisation for English beef and lamb).

In the first quarter of 2016, Poland accounted for approximately 8,320t or 20% of the beef shipped from the EU to outside markets.

However, the AHDB reports that the EU remains a small player on the global beef market, as only 41,600t of the beef produced in the EU was shipped to outside markets.

According to the AHDB, Germany was the next largest exporter of beef from the EU during the first three months of the year, with an 18% share of the market.

Spain and the Netherlands are also two other significant markets, it reports, with both holding 10% of the export market in the first quarter.

Main markets supplied

According to the AHDB, the EU supplies a large number of markets, but five markets account for 50% of the volume of beef exported from the EU.

These five countries include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Israel.

It shows that there has been particularly sharp growth in the beef market in Israel, as shipments jumped 250% during the first three months of the year.

However, the US has now emerged as a small market for the EU, it says, despite it seeming like an attractive market for Irish beef exports in 2015.

The now former Minster for Agriculture, Simon Coveney previously said the opening of the US market was “a tremendous opportunity to market Irish beef throughout the US.”

During the first three months of the year, Irish beef exports to the US were valued at €6m, with 700t of primal and sub-primal cuts exported by Irish beef processors.

Coveney was also hopeful that Ireland would sell in the region of €50-100m worth of Irish beef into the US in 2015, but the actual figure stood closer to €11m.

EU beef exports to China double

Meanwhile, EU beef exports to China have more than doubled during the first three months of 2016, the AHDB shows, with 510t of EU beef shipped to the Asian state.

The opening of the Chinese market to Irish beef in February 2016 was welcomed by many industry commentators.

But, full access to the Chinese market has yet to be granted and the Department of Agriculture is working closely with Chinese authorities to finalise the remaining technical steps to allow the trade to commence.

Coveney said China represents a ‘vast opportunity‘ because of its huge population and highlighted what has happened with pork and dairy products over the past five years.

The volume and value of beef exports to China will be determined this year by when we get into the market, he said.

Coveney also said that it could be the first or second quarter of the year before Irish beef is granted full access to China.

We will have to wait and see. It is up to the Chinese but we are working well with them.