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Beef processors gear up for US marketing blitz

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Larry Goodman

Larry Goodman

Larry Goodman

Irish beef processors are gearing up for a major assault on US markets, with plans at an advanced stage for an east coast blitz in three weeks' time.

A 30-strong delegation is expected to be led on a whistle-stop tour of New York, Washington and possibly Boston by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

The trip will combine a series of glitzy promotional events with premium-end chefs in New York, followed by high level political engagements in Washington, as Irish beef suppliers attempt to land contracts on the other side of the Atlantic for the first time in close to 20 years.

However, beef processors here have mixed views on where the biggest opportunity for Irish beef lies within the US market.

While Larry Goodman's ABP is reported to have secured a contract with organic specialist, Whole Foods, other meat processors believe that there is more scope in the lower value, but higher volume, manufacturing end of the market.

A massive shortage of beef in the US has sent prices rocketing to all-time highs that are now returning up to €1/kg more than European export outlets are currently paying.

Irish forequarter beef is selling at a 10-20pc discount into Europe compared to the prices being achieved in Britain.

This is largely due to the availability of beef from countries such as Poland at prices that are currently €1/kg lower.

Despite having a large domestic beef sector, the US still imports close to 1m tonnes of manufacturing beef a year to satisfy its huge appetite for burger beef.

Australia and New Zealand currently supply approximately 475,000t of beef into the US annually, taking advantage of the absence of major South American suppliers such as Brazil and Argentina from the market.

In addition, some Irish processors are hopeful that beef from animals over 30 months will be eligible for export to the US.

However, there are some doubts as to whether the small print in the agreement signed off between the Irish and US officials will actually allow beef that is destined for manufacturing to be exported.

Indo Farming