Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 4 December 2016

The main market headache is meeting export demand

Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30

Meeting market requirements on the continent for Irish organic beef, particularly during the first half of the year is one of the challenges for Good Herdsmen Ltd.

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The processing and marketing company owned and run by John Purcell offers a base of €5.20/kg where the return to organic livestock farmers is a premium of up to 33pc over conventional beef prices.

Together with seven other organic farmers in the area more than 1,000 organic beef animals are now being produced annually on a total area in excess of 1,000 acres

"There is a huge export market for organic beef and we have a big problem every year from January to April with the shortage of finished cattle. To meet the demand we are finishing about 1,000 cattle per year out of necessity as the cattle are not there," he said.

"We are supplying very strong quantities to Germany. Holland is also very strong and there is a growing market for organic in Denmark where we have become very strong," he said.

He is supplying to ASDA in the UK, and in Ireland, Musgrave, Aldi, Lidl, Dunnes, Tesco, are among the retail chains now stocking the Irish organic from Good Herdsmen Ltd.

Currently 40pc of the output is sold on the Irish market - a market for 7-8t a week, with the balance going for export.

"The European market is the growth potential. We are in with all of the major players in the retail business in Europe now and I see considerable potential there for the future. The challenge will be to keep production growing to meet the demand all year round," said John.

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Consumers are paying 25-33pc over conventional beef for organic in Ireland where growth in sales is fairly static, and dependent on new outlets.

Research carried out by some of the Irish supermarkets has shown that non-nationals are among the best customers.

On the continental markets the consumers are paying up to 40pc more for Irish organic beef than the non organic product.

Currently there are 1,300 organic cattle farms in Ireland representing an increase of 65pc in cattle farms and 100pc in cattle numbers since 2008. The organic retail market in Ireland is estimated to be worth€106m/annum, with the German retail sales at €7.6bn, France at €4.8bn and UK €2.3bn.

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