Farm Ireland

Wednesday 19 December 2018

'Irish producers in prime position to meet demand for high-quality meat'

European consumers are looking for higher value cuts.
European consumers are looking for higher value cuts.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Ireland is in prime position to take advantage of a German market that is currently eating a lower quantity of meat but is demanding higher quality and is willing to pay premium price.

Germany has one of Europe's highest proportions of vegetarians at 10pc, with 1pc identifying as vegans. While this may be a concerning figure for Irish meat companies exporting to Germany, leading members of the Irish agri-food sector believe Ireland can take exploit a German market that is demanding higher-quality produce.

Bord Bia German marketing manager Donal Denvir said that Ireland is "well placed" to provide high-quality meat cuts to the health-conscious German consumer.

"If people are choosing to eat less meat, when they do purchase it they're looking for quality, and that's a space we're operating in and we feel that's an opportunity for us - and that's what is being reflected when we speak to trade and when we speak to consumers in focus groups," he said.

"They are being more conscientious about their meat intake but if they are going to eat meat they don't want to necessarily focus on cheaper meats like poultry or pork. They'll invest in a nice piece of beef or lamb or piece of game."

While we do have to be aware of trends like vegetarianism and flexitarianism, Bord Bia's beef sector manager Mark Zieg thinks consumers will still pay more for a premium cut of meat, even if they do choose to eat less.

"We're very much a premium supplier of steak. There is a trend of meat consumption that is reduced but it's not something that would at all hurt us as it's the commodity product that might have the image problem or not be as rewarding a taste experience, whereas we have the quality that the consumer is looking for," he said.

"Consumers are willing to pay more for a higher quality product."

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The growing number of vegans in Germany is a concern for Irish agri-food exporters, but Ornua's German marketing manager Matthias Brune said that the rise in these types of trends shows that Germans are becoming more conscious about food. As a result he thinks that Germans are willing to pay more, and that this is where Irish products can step in.

"Veganism is something we are concerned about but there's also a positive thing around it. People are paying more attention to food and to what they eat, and if you're a quality provider of good food then this is to your advantage," he said.

He added that even though Germany gave birth to discounters Aldi and Lidl, Ornua have been able to launch premium products there in recent years, as German consumers have become more concerned with quality.

"In general Germans are very rational and very price-conscious. We have been able to launch the Kerrygold yogurt, which is high-priced, because of new trends.

"This wouldn't have happened five years ago," he said.

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