No-deal Brexit; a ‘horror show’ for NI beef and lamb
Reacting to DAERA’s latest report on the ‘Size and Performance of the Northern Ireland Food and Drinks Processing Sector,’ the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) has warned that the beef and lamb sector must not be undermined by a damaging no-deal exit from the EU.
The report has shown that overall the Northern Ireland food and drinks sector has grown in 2017 with the beef and lamb sector contributing the largest share of the Northern Ireland agri-food economy. Gross turnover from the beef and sheep meat processing sector topped £1.312 billion in 2017, accounting for 27 per cent of the total turnover.
Great Britain continues to be a key market for Northern Ireland beef and lamb. In 2017, 71 per cent of sales were to Great Britain with a value of £927.6 million which is a 14 per cent increase on 2016 levels. Sales to the wider European Union accounted for 16 per cent or £210.5 million in 2017.
Commenting on the report, LMC chief executive, Ian Stevenson said: “Following the outcome of the referendum in 2016, and the subsequent devaluation of sterling, it’s encouraging that processing businesses were able to strengthen their sales position in a very competitive GB market.
“The Northern Ireland market which represented sales of £161.3 million in 2017 remains a vitally important foundation market for the industry on which to build external and export sales. LMC actively promotes the consumption of beef and lamb through campaign advertising, educational and promotional activities.
“The beef and sheep meat sub-sector remains a high volume, low margin business with the average level of net profit as a percentage of sales at 2.1 per cent in beef and sheep meat processing.
“The data clearly shows the importance of local, external and export markets to the Northern Ireland beef and sheep meat sector. Red meat processing is effectively a disassembly sector which breaks down carcases into edible and non-edible components, adding as much value as possible before placing on the market. Through this, optimal balance and market returns are achieved when components can reach the best available market outlets with no or minimal tariff and non-tariff barriers.
“The entire beef and sheep meat value chain in Northern Ireland, including over 20,000 primary producers, cannot afford the devastating impact that a no-deal exit from the EU would deliver to the industry. All possible steps must be taken to ensure that we are not faced with such a horror show on October 31, 2019.”