French Live Cattle Exports Recover

FRANCE - Live exports continue to represent an important component of the French livestock sector. Last year, France exported more than 1.32 million head of cattle; an increase of 10.5 per cent on the figure for 2008.
calendar icon 17 March 2010
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The principal destination for French live exports is Italy, and there was a four per cent rise in the level of trade to this market in 2009, to just over 1 million head. Interestingly, exports of French heifers for finishing in Italy rose by an estimated 20 per cent to 235,000 head. This made the market more competitive for other suppliers, and it is for this reason that almost 75 per cent of Irish live exports to Italy last year were young bulls.

The incidence of Bluetongue disease in France dropped dramatically to just 83 cases last year from over 32,000 in 2008. This success was the result of a vaccination strategy involving some 95 per cent of the national herd, and this enabled freer access to markets which had previously imposed restrictions on cattle imports from France. Increased live exports in 2009 contributed towards a 10 per cent reduction in young bull slaughterings. However, there was a six per cent increase in cull cow disposals and when combined with a five per cent fall in calf births, this is likely to lead to tighter beef supplies on a number of continental EU markets.

French live exports to Spain increased 47 per cent on 2008 levels, reaching over 122,000 head. Although exports to Greece dropped slightly to 22,000 cattle, exports to 3rd country markets collectively recorded a three-fold increase to almost 33,000 head. A steady recovery was seen in shipments of mostly finished cattle to Algeria, Lebanon and Tunisia, with some trade also resuming to Morocco. It is worth noting that such live exports no longer incur export refunds from the EU, as was the case when this trade was at its peak in the late 1990’s.

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