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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Ireland imported over 51t of beef (49% increase) in 2022

Ireland imported over 14,119 tonnes of beef during the first three months of 2023, trade data from the CSO (Central Statistics Office) shows.

This represents an increase of 5,164 tonnes (58%) on the corresponding period – January, February, and March – in 2022.

During the same window in 2021, the country imported 6,395t of beef, while this figure stood at 7,869t during this period in 2020 and 7,506t in 2019.

The matter was recently raised by Mayo’s deputy Alan Dillon, who asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to confirm the exact quantity of imported beef that has entered the Irish market in recent years.

The minister pointed to data from the CSO, which shows that from January to March of this year, the top five countries from which beef was imported into Ireland over the first quarter were:

  • The United Kingdom (12,920 tonnes);
  • Spain (511 tonnes);
  • Netherlands (150 tonnes);
  • Denmark (147 tonnes);
  • Germany (100 tonnes).

During the first quarter of 2023, Ireland exported 117,720 tonnes of beef, including 53,375 tonnes to the United Kingdom, the minister said.

The minister said the latest CSO trade data for the first quarter of the year shows that beef imports amounted to 12% of Irish beef exports in volume terms but “only 6% in value terms”.

Ireland importing beef

He provided a summary of the data, broken down by month as requested, and showing the top five countries of origin, as follows:

Jan-23 Feb-23 Mar-23 Jan-Mar 2023
Imports Imports Imports Imports
Country Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
United Kingdom 5,301 -1,044* 8,662 12,920
Spain 149 162 200 511
Netherlands 46 53 51 150
Denmark 4 39 104 147
Germany 1 34 66 100
Other Countries 127 77 87 291
Total 5,627 -679* 9,171 14,119

Note – The CSO beef import data from the UK was corrected in February, resulting in a negative figure in the recorded stats for the month. CSO data for March is provisional.


The most recent full-year data from the CSO indicates that Ireland imported 51,665 tonnes of beef in 2022, up 16,994 tonnes or 49% on the previous year.

Imports from 2018-2021 inclusive:

  • 2021 – 34,671t;
  • 2020 – 29,921t;
  • 2019 – 30,213t;
  • 2018 – 34,437.

The minister said “the nature of all commodity markets is that prices fluctuate and international trade flows are a two-way process”.

“As the Irish beef sector is highly export-oriented, its success is dependent on the maintenance of an open, rules-based multilateral trading system.”

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