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Independent.ie

Thursday 21 September 2017

Beef exports to US will begin in March

US Secretary for Agricuture Tom Vilsack pictured during a visit to Stephen Morrisson's Beef Farm in Kill, Co. Kildare with Minister for Agriculture & Food Simon Coverney.
US Secretary for Agricuture Tom Vilsack pictured during a visit to Stephen Morrisson's Beef Farm in Kill, Co. Kildare with Minister for Agriculture & Food Simon Coverney.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Irish beef could be on American plates for St Patrick's Day.

ABP has confirmed that shipments of beef to US food distribution giant Sysco will kick off in March. The deal will be worth up to €15m a year to the Larry Goodman-owned group.

The announcement marks the first of many deals that are likely to be done over the course of the four-day tour of New York, Washingston and Boston being undertaken by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, this week.

The minister is leading a delegation of over 30 beef industry leaders aiming to carve out a piece of the US market for the first time in over 16 years since the BSE ban was implemented in 1999.

The ABP deal, facilitated by the company's long-term partner, Tadhg Geary of Pallas Foods, will initially focus on steak houses and restaurants through Sysco Metro New York and Sysco Boston.

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that he hoped it would be the first of many such deals for Irish companies.

"Partnering with large US food companies like Sysco is the perfect way to bring the taste and quality of Irish beef to US consumers and I wish them every success in this venture," he said.

ABP employs over 8,000 people at 60 facilities around the world, while Sysco has a turnover of more than $46bn and employs more than 50,000. Pallas Foods was bought by Sysco in 2009 and employs over 750.

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Also travelling with the group this week is ABP's Mark Goodman, Foyle's Michael Acheson, Slaney's Rory Fanning, John Horgan of Kepak, Francis Mallon of Liffey Meats and Jim Dobson of Dunbia.

The tour was launched yesterday at the New York office of the Irish consul general, Barbara Jones.

This was followed by a demonstration of the best ways to prepare Irish beef by Michelin-starred chefs in a two-star Manhattan restaurant called Daniels.

Today the delegation moves to Washington, where a launch event will be held at the Irish Embassy.

Following a detour by Minister Coveney to the opening of a Greencore plant near Rhode Island, the week's events conclude in Boston in the upmarket steak-house chain Smith and Wollensky's.

Domestic supplies of US beef have fallen to their lowest levels in over 60 years. Supply shortages have driven prices to record highs and this, combined with favourable exchange rates, has made the US market particularly attractive to Irish exporters.

Drought

Despite a serious drought continuing in major beef states such as California, the American beef herd has already started to rebound, with January figures from the USDA showing cattle numbers up by 1.5m head, or 1pc.

Only two Irish meat plants have so far gained clearance from the US authorities to trade there, although several more are expected to complete the process over the coming months. In addition, US authorities have yet to rule on whether they will allow imports of Irish beef for manufacturing (mincing) but processors fear the news may not be positive.

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