Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

Beef processors urged to sell Ireland's green image

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Ireland's green image has not been fully capitalised on when marketing beef on world markets, according to ICOS.

Pointing out that Irish beef has the fifth lowest carbon footprint in the world, it called on Bord Bia and beef processors to use these traits to drive exports.

"Ireland needs Bord Bia to promote the healthy and natural aspects of Irish beef production," ICOS maintained.

The recommendation is included in the latest ICOS beef industry submission to the Food Harvest 2020 strategy group.

Under the Food Harvest 2020, a 20pc growth in output from the beef sector is targeted over the next eight years.

The ICOS document argues that the correct marketing of Irish beef will play a key role in realising this goal.

Irish beef has a carbon dioxide equivalent of 19kg per kilogramme of beef produced, compared to an EU average of 22.1kg and 80kg for Brazil.

These figures should be used to promote Irish beef especially in affluent markets that put a premium on environmental and ethical standards, the ICOS submission maintained.

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Calling for a 'brand Ireland' initiative, the ICOS submission said Bord Bia must build on successful ventures such as that with McDonald's in Britain, which actively advertises its beef as only sourced from British and Irish farmers.

"Ireland needs to build a sufficient premium from brand Ireland as the Scottish industry has from its Scotbeef brand," the submission stated.

Increased investment in farmer training and educational courses and the use of genomics and sexed semen in breeding were also singled out in the document.

"The beef industry needs a targeted training and education course to mirror what is happening in the dairy sector. Why is there not financial support for beef discussion group participation?" the ICOS document asked.


Research work should focus on the capability of enhanced breeding as well as feed and grassland management programmes to maximise profitability.

The projected growth of 30-50pc in the dairy herd had serious implications for the beef sector, the document accepted.

"Programmes need to be put in place to help deliver a market and profit for this emerging 'dairy beef' sector," ICOS claimed.

"Research into the most efficient and profitable farm production systems need to be addressed by Teagasc and initiated at farm level."

New markets needed to be explored, with the potential in the Middle East and North Africa for Halal products and Asian countries for offal and fifth quarter cuts.

In relation to live exports, the submission said any attempt to impose the 30-day residency rule in Ireland had to opposed.

This EU regulation requires cattle destined for export to be resident on the same farm for 30 days prior to departure. This ruling would impose serious constraints on the Irish trade if fully imposed here.

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