Irish beef losing out in competition for US and Chinese markets
ABP boss says delays in access setting back industry
The chief executive of the country's largest beef processor has warned countries like Australia were gaining a "competitive advantage" due to delays fully accessing the US and Chinese markets.
It was a key issue raised at last week's Beef Forum.
And ABP CEO Paul Finnerty said there is a lot of frustration in the processing sector with delays in finally opening up new overseas markets for Irish beef.
"It's giving countries like Australia a competitive advantage over us," Mr Finnerty told the Farming Independent at the opening of ABP Food Group's €50m expansion in Cahir, Co Tipperary last week.
"We need to try and get there as an industry. And then we're looking for the Chinese market to open.
"There's huge quantities of product going into China from competing countries to Ireland such as New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay and, more recently, Brazil, so we need to have full access to that market in order to achieve the best prices for what we're selling." It comes as Australia reports beef exports up 11pc with output of nine million head, with China performing particularly well.
ABP has expanded its production capabilities in recent years to capitalise on growing markets but America and China remain "the key ones," he said. "We're very keen on Asia as a whole: Japan, The Philippines, but China is the big one."
ABP has done what it can to become more efficient but it was impossible to ignore "the fact that Irish cattle at the moment are 110pc of the average European price, so our product is very expensive."