In recent years, the European beef market has become more discerning, especially where the higher-value steak cuts are concerned.
This is the source of many of the contentious specifications in relation to weights, class of animal such as heifer, steer or young bull, age at slaughter, fat cover and conformation.
Feedback from Bord Bia's regular meetings with buyers confirms that Irish beef enjoys an excellent reputation, which is a testament to our provenance as an unspoilt natural environment that is ideal for grass-based beef production.
Bord Bia's Quality Assurance scheme, which includes more than 45,000 Irish beef farms, is part of this image of safe food, traceability, animal welfare and environmental management.
This and the Origin Green programme are all targeted at maximising the highest possible returns from the marketplace. As a small country, in global terms, it is difficult for Ireland to compete solely on the volume of beef we produce.
Instead, themes like eating quality, sustainability and efficiency must remain at the forefront of our focus, both in terms of production and marketing.
That's why initiatives like the sustainability survey is conducted at the time of the farm Quality Assurance audit.
Each farm is benchmarked with regard to carbon footprint, water quality and biodiversity, and given advice on how further improvement may be achieved.
Reducing carbon footprint has been shown to improve efficiency and thereby enhance profitability.
Improving daily liveweight gain and breeding performance, extending the grazing season and achieving more effective use of slurry and manure are all shown to have a beneficial effect.
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