Ireland’s meat production no longer bite-sized

Michael Walsh

There was an increase in the supply of meat produced in Ireland between 2016 to 2017, reaching 1,430,120 tonnes coming through the country.

According to a statistical release by the Central Statistics Office on October 18, the total supply increased by 4.6 per cent in 2017 despite the risk of Brexit-related fallout and the threat of a loss of €1.7 billion to UK markets.

Bord Bia released figures saying that 30 per cent of all Irish food and drink exports were meat, worth a total of €3.8 billion to the market last year.

They were just behind dairy exports which made €4 billion – 19 per cent growth from the previous year  – making last year Ireland’s eighth successive year of growth in the food and drinks industry.

Beef and veal made up the majority, accounting for 54.1 per cent of the total meat supplied in the country followed by sheep and poultry. The only decrease was in pig meat, which dropped by 0.5 per cent from the previous year.

Clare farmer Sean O’Driscoll said that he doesn’t feel pressure to meet the demand of the increasing market but said “the price is what affects the farmers, what the farmer puts in the product and what he gets out are only marginal. Basically, the farmers are at the bottom of the pile and the supermarkets and meat factories dictate the industry.”

71.3 per cent of the total supply of meat was exported worldwide and China opened its market to Irish beef last year for the first time in 18 years. In Ireland however, the price of beef has dropped by as much as 20c per kilogram this year.

In September, meat factories decided to offer 5c per kilogram less off prime cattle quotes. With rising prices in meat and the fodder shortages, Irish farmers may be left to catch up to their ever-shrinking profit margins.

According to a study by Our World in Data, meat consumption has risen steadily since the 1960’s and the average person now consumes 43 kilogram of meat per capita. The price of meat increased internationally across 2017 also, partially due to consumer trends such as wanting to know where meat comes from.

A study by Bord Bia showed that healthy eating is on the rise as when asked, 32 per cent of people said they’ve changed their eating habits for health reasons. Eating meat has been linked to having many health benefits because of its richness in vitamins and minerals that are not in as high a density in vegetables.

Michael Walsh

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons