The live export calf trade to the Netherlands for the year to date is performing well below recent years' levels.

Department of Agriculture figures for the week ending 27 March show numbers exported in that week, at 4,284 head, are running 47.9%, or 3,567 head, lower than the corresponding week in 2020.

Year-to-date exports to the Dutch market, at 22,814 head, are running 38.1% or 14,018 head lower.

The figure would be even greater if it were not for figures being compared with a week’s earlier levels in 2020, due to an extra week’s data present in 2020 and this practice being adopted to compare the same number of weekly records.

The veal trade in the Netherlands continues to be hit hard by the closure of food service outlets across Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, with specialist producers cautious about trade prospects for 2021 after a challenging year in 2020 and feeding lower numbers.

France and Belgium

Calf exports to France and Belgium have also been under pressure in 2021, albeit with much smaller numbers concerned.

The number of cattle exported to France, at 1,697 head, is running 1,230 head lower, while exports to Belgium, at 1,425 head, have taken a greater hit and are running 1,982 head lower.

Positive performance

Thankfully, some of the slack is being picked up by higher demand in other countries, with year-to-date calf exports of 60,547 head running 6,605 lower.

This figure for the week ending 27 March is again compared with the total for the week ending 20 March in 2020.

Live exports to Italy, Spain and Northern Ireland are performing better than in 2020.

The largest percentage increase is stemming from higher exports of cattle for direct slaughter

The number of cattle exported live to Spain is running at 26,412 head, which represents an increase of 4,900 or 22.8% on 2020 volumes.

Exports to Northern Ireland at 20,716 head is running almost double last year’s level of 10,458.

The largest percentage increase is stemming from higher exports of cattle for direct slaughter and further finishing, although demand for calves is also benefitting.

Meanwhile, the number of cattle exported live to Italy, at 7,615, head is running at over twice the levels (103.9%) recorded for the corresponding period in 2020.

Other notable changes are live exports to Libya at 3,032 head, running 2,537 lower, although some of this shortfall should be made up by a shipment in the pipeline by Curzon Livestock.