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US Government approves 'grass fed' marketing claims for Irish Beef


Pic Roger Jones.

Pic Roger Jones.

Pic Roger Jones.

United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) has approved of Bord Bia proposals to advertise the unique qualities of Irish beef in the United States.

Bord Bia today welcomed the decision and said the decision will accelerate its activities with beef buyers and retailers and bring its message closer to the US consumer.

The USDA seal of approval has now been given to the claims that Irish beef is:

  • More than 80% grass diet
  • From farms participating in Bord Bia’s Origin Green Sustainability Scheme
  • Fully traceable from farm to fork
  • From quality assured farms and processing systems
  • Pasture for more than 6/7/8 months per year
  • Raised on family farms
  • Raised without the use of growth hormones
  • Treated responsibly with use of antibiotics

The approval is the culmination of three years of engagement with USDA and last week’s visit by the USDA to Ireland  to audit Bord Bia’s systems as the competent authority in registering and monitoring the Irish exporters who wish to use the claims.

The decision ensures that Irish beef sold in the USA from Bord Bia approved plants can now carry the USDA shield and provide a further guarantee to US buyers and consumers that the unique claims Bord Bia makes are validated by their own national authority.

The announcement came following a meeting involving the USDA, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Michael Creed T.D. and Tara Mc Carthy, CEO, Bord Bia on day one of the trade mission to the United States.

Following today's meeting with the US Department of Agriculture, Minister Creed said he was extremely pleased that we have received the green light to proceed with a measure which has the potential to add significant value to our beef offering to the US. 

"Irish beef processors will now have the opportunity to market their produce as ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ subject to adherence to the verification process.  Such a marketing tool will allow our beef exporters pursue the Premium US beef market and will boost Irish beef exports to the US which will be crucial in terms of Brexit mitigation.”

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said that this achievement is reward for the considerable effort involved in pursuing an application through the USDA Process Verified Program (PVP) route (see Notes for Editor) and will reinforce Bord Bia’s marketing and promotion strategy in the US.

“Bord Bia has worked hard to ensure that this application was a success and approval now allows us to bring our message closer to the US consumer. Earning the trust of the USDA after such a rigorous process will also enhance Ireland’s reputation in other markets and Bord Bia will maximise all opportunities this enhanced creditability may present.”

“The claims we make to US customers are independently verifiable at farm and animal level and the Irish beef exporters who wish to use these marketing claims must comply with the requirements of the PVP and be independently audited. Ireland’s extremely robust Quality Assurance and animal movement systems, and the depth of information we collect in our farm audits, are key to backing up our claims and ensuring that they are protected” she added.

US Beef Strategy

Speaking to an audience of targeted US meat buyers and government officials from the US and Ireland in Washington Tara Mc Carthy said Bord Bia’s beef strategy for the US is grounded in significant consumer insight work.

"Our consumer research identified the opportunity to position Irish beef as a premium branded beef, with the look and texture of grass fed beef but with a new taste that US consumers are looking for. Our green environment is a real point of difference, and within the US market, Ireland is well-known as green and natural, while the US consumer increasingly demands grass fed meat products.”

“With the USDA approval to market our grass fed beef, coupled with the other claims and the Minister’s success in winning access for Irish beef  Intended for Grinding, we will now accelerate our engagement with buyers, retailers and the wider foodservice industry.”

Next Steps

Bord Bia’s New York office is targeting beef buyers for inward visits to Ireland to demonstrate the substance behind our claims. Bord Bia will also increase its presence at trade shows and food fairs in the US to facilitate promotion of its new marketing drive and to introduce Irish exporters to potential customers.  Finally, the Irish Beef website for the USA is being updated as a key source of information for trade.

Bord Bia researches US Consumer’  Attitudes

Bord Bia has identified the opportunity in the US to market Irish beef as a premium product that consumers will pay more for. Communicating quality, ‘purity’ and creating a brand that symbolises Ireland’s ‘green credentials’ is the key.

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According to Bord Bia research, Irish Beef is ‘New News’ in the USA as the US consumer doesn’t currently associate Ireland with beef so the prospect of promoting Irish beef provides ‘talkability’ for a growing cohort of consumers who care about their food and where it comes from.

The US consumer increasingly wants grass fed products and Ireland has an image in the US of a green, natural and pure land.

Consumers in the US want to ‘taste the difference’ and they believe that Irish beef will deliver a different taste experience to grain fed US beef and, in turn, will deliver something that is really beyond the norm of mainstream ‘standard’ US beef.

Blind taste tests revealed that Irish beef delivers a ‘best of both worlds’.

In terms of appearance, the consumer responds well to the deep red ‘grass fed’ colour, however, the product experience is closer to US Prime, making Irish beef an option that delivers the best of both worlds.

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