An offal big business: meat factories find global markets for everything bar the moo
Sales of offal from beef, sheep and pigs is big business, with annual exports from cattle alone worth close to €230m, according to Bord Bia.
And while the bullock may start its days in the back field, it's certainly a globe-trotter of note - no pun intended - by the time it hits the plate.
Please log in or register with Farming Independent for free access to this article.
Between tongues going to Japan, testicles to Hong Kong, and tails heading for Spain, there's an outlet somewhere on the map for every bit of the bovine.
Indeed, it's been said that the meat factories will sell every part of the cow except the moo.
Gallstones are possibly the most lucrative item on the list. These occur in tiny amounts in some older cows, and are valued at over €35,000/kg. They are used in traditional Chinese medicines, and are considered an aphrodisiac by some in the Far East.
Meat industry and minister clash on value of offal exports
A €160M differential has emerged between figures provided by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, and the meat industry on the overall value of beef offal exports from Ireland.
Minister Creed told the Dáil recently that total offal exports in 2018 were worth €770m, with beef offal valued at €395m. However, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) claimed the figure for the beef sector is closer to €230m. The figures provided by Minister Creed put the value of offal exports from pigs at €123m, from poultry at €195m, and from sheep at €11m. A further €46m in offal exports was categorised as 'other meat and meat products'.
While Cormac Healy of MII said he could not comment on the accuracy of Minister Creed's figures, he pointed out that Bord Bia's annual report for 2018 had a figure of €230m for beef offal and hide exports.