The recent Trade Mission to Algeria helped to raise the profile of Irish livestock amongst the Algerian buyers, according to Claudia Saumell Bord Bia’s Africa Manager.
Algeria, whose live animal imports oscillate between 40,000 to 50,000 animals per year and have predominantly, being sourcing from France and Spain, found in Ireland a new potential partner for their livestock demands, she says.
“Algerian Business mentality of immediate profits prompts the livestock sector to opt for 500kgs animals for a few months of fattening and slaughter.
“Heifer importations represent a smaller section of the market and are linked to private dairy farm projects that in most of the cases are long-term investments,” Saumell says.
In general terms Livestock business in Algeria is run by 4 to 5 large importers, each of them importing from 6,000 to 10,000 animals per year and the rest of the market is shared between smaller importers with a maximum annual trade of 1,200 animals.
“These large importers have farms with capacity of holding 1.400 animals, and their current trade dynamic is to import from 800 to 1.200 animals on each monthly shipment.”
According to Scumell, transport is a major challenge that Irish exporters will have to overcome and it seems that the vessel option is the preferred way of transportation for the Algerians as it would allow some more competitiveness when maximizing the transportation costs.
“The trucks option on the other hand is still a viable option but it would raise the price that could potentially put the Irish cattle beyond the prices offered by French suppliers.
“French cattle operators have a notorious advantage versus the Irish as logistics, language and travel visas are factors that do not represent such a challenge as it is for Ireland.
“This recent visit however has awaken interest amongst the Algerians to explore possibilities to trade with Ireland as they are all very aware of the reputation, quality and genetics of Irish cattle,” she says.
Scumell says that usually livestock demand works on 2 seasons, the first one runs from September to January, during which period the imported bulls are often younger; from 6 to 8 moths, an average of weight 350kgs and a further 6 to 8 months fattening.
“Breeds of interest are Charolais, Limousin and Aubrac, the Algerians have a preference for animals with low fat levels,” she says.
The second season starts in January until April/May, where animals imported tend to be heavier so, from 500kg up to 650/700kg at the end of the fattening process or for direct slaughter.
“It is important to make the point that castrated animals have a negative image as in the Algerian mindset they produce a lower quality meat,” she says.