Ireland faces competition from Brazil for slice of US beef market
THE head of Ireland's largest beef processor said the growth of valuable high-end exports of beef to the US must be viewed as a three-to-five-year project.
Paul Finnerty, chief executive of ABP, said the sales of top-quality, grass-fed beef into the high-end US market have been "slow" so far.
"You would measure it against that sort of timeframe. Thus far it is slow, but not necessarily any slower than we would have expected," he said.
However, Ireland is expected to face competition for a slice of the US trade with a reduced availability of quota pool after Brazil was also granted access to the market.
Richard Clinton, group commercial director at Dawn Meats, which this week received approval from the EU Competition Commission for a 49pc stake in Elivia, the second largest beef and veal processor in France, said the initial opportunity in the US is for "niche high-end" prime cuts.
He said they have been on the ground in the US for the last 18 months for their premium range of beef products.
A meat industry source said it is clear the scale of opportunity for Irish processors was welcome but it has been "over-hyped".
"It only allows access for primal cuts not destined for grinding. This is where the real opportunity might lie in the future," he added.