Over 70% of Irish organic lamb isn't sold as organic
As production in the sector gets set to double, our reporter looks at what needs to change
The figures could not be starker. Over 70pc of all organic lamb ends up in conventional channels, mixed in with the rest of the conventially produced stock coming off Irish farms.
It seems like such a waste given the 10-15pc premium that is available for organic sheep meat. The farms have borne the extra costs associated with the premium product, but have failed to clear the final hurdle required to claim the dividend.
Roscommon beef and sheep farmer Kevin King fares better than average, but his figures still give pause for thought.
He estimates that less than half of his annual crop of 160 lambs make it into organic channels.
"There's really only one decent outlet in the country, which is Irish Country Meats (ICM) in Camolin in Wexford," he explained.
"To send lambs there I need to have a minimum of 30 in a batch, and meet a fella in Moate over 65km away, where a batch is assembled to head off to Wexford.
"Maybe we're spoiled around here, but for conventional stock we have Kepak Athleague, Ballyhaunis, and Roscommon mart all effectively on our doorstep.
"There is another outlet in Cavan but again that's a four-hour round trip, and the customer has a small set-up so he isn't able to weigh them then and there, which in turn delays payment," says Mr King.