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Livestock Exports to Netherlands Reach 5-Year High

29 October 2009

IRELAND - Compared to 2008, 2009 has been a successful year for Irish live exports to the Netherlands. With high oil prices in 2008 reducing the competitiveness of Irish exports, Dutch veal producers were also challenged as inputs rose sharply reducing the demand for calves.

Figures for the first nine months of 2009 show calf exports are more than double the previous year. Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, look at why 2009 has been such a success compared to 2008.

Restrictions on livestock movements

An outbreak of Bluetongue disease in northern Europe in 2008 brought about restrictions in livestock movement between member states. As a consequence, exports of German calves to southern Europe was off limits. With a limited number of market outlets to choose from, Germany exported 366,000 calves to the Netherlands, a 35 per cent increase on 2007 levels.

It would appear that the most significant opportunity for Irish calves has been provided by the virtual absence of British and French calves from the market since late 2008. The NBHV (Dutch Association of Livestock Traders) banned the import of French calves due outbreak of a new strain of Bluetongue disease. Similarly, a ban was placed on British calves due to TB. The combined exports of newborn calves from France and the UK amounted to 43,680 in 2008. Year to date, the UK have not exported any calves to the Netherlands whist France has exported just 57 calves.

Renewed confidence in Dutch veal sector

The Dutch veal sector has been more profitable this year than last. In 2008, veal producers had to contend with very high dairy and feed prices. With a number of Dutch producers in the red by the end of 2008, this year has seen more stable prices and lower production costs.

Consumer demand for veal in key export markets has been reported as unusually good throughout the summer. An increased optimism has fuelled demand from veal producers for calves.

In the context of our exports over the last five years, Ireland exports an average of 45,000 calves to the Netherlands per annum. Whilst 2009 has proved to be a very successful year, the outlook remains promising as an anticipated fall in dairy and beef production in Europe should lead towards a tighter supply of calves. Supplying the Dutch veal sector with high quality calves at relatively competitive prices is key for the future of Ireland’s live exports to the Netherlands.


TheCattleSite News Desk


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