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Decline in Republic of Ireland Imports

13 March 2013

Northern Ireland - Last week the number of prime cattle imported from ROI for direct slaughter in NI plants was at its highest level since mid December 2012 with 533 head imported, write market analysts at Livestock and Meat Commission Northern Ireland.

However, in general imports of prime cattle for direct slaughter have been lower with imports for the year to date running 15 per cent behind the corresponding period last year.

The number of cattle being imported for direct slaughter is well behind the levels recorded in autumn 2012 when up to a thousand prime cattle a week were being imported from ROI. The level of imports from ROI has been markedly reduced in 2013 when compared to late 2012 due to a tightening in the availability of prime cattle in ROI and a strengthening in the value of the euro
against sterling.

This strengthening in the value of the euro has made finished cattle in ROI more expensive for NI factories/agents who were purchasing cattle in ROI for direct slaughter in NI plants.

It is worth adding that cattle imported from ROI for direct slaughter do not qualify to carry the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured logo. In recent weeks plants have been strictly enforcing higher penalties for all non farm quality assured stock to as much as £75 per head.

These higher penalties have resulted in a growing number of non-FQAS stock being exported to ROI for direct slaughter. The number of cows being exported has increased in particular with exports for the year to date running 38.8 per cent ahead of the same period in 2012.

This has also been aided by the buoyant cattle prices at present in ROI.

In recent weeks the major NI processors have indicated reservations about purchasing ROI born cattle which have been finished on Northern Ireland farms. These cattle, often referred to as ‘Nomads’, are difficult to market as the meat from them cannot be labelled as either British or Irish.


This is a beef labelling issue resulting from the cross border movement of cattle within the  EU. As a result there have been reports of reduced interest from NI finishers in purchasing cattle at ROI marts in recent weeks.

This has led to a marked reduction in the number of store animals being imported into NI from ROI for further breeding and production as indicated in Figure 1.

In February 2012 a total of 2,342 cattle were imported from ROI for breeding and production and in February 2013 this was just 895 head. This reduction of 1,447 head represents a 62 per cent
decline in imports when comparing the two months.

It is important that producers are aware that cattle born in ROI and finished in NI can qualify for Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured status provided that they have completed the required 90
day residency period in NI but it is also worth noting that these animals do not qualify for the Red Tractor Logo as they are not UK born.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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