Coveney insists horsemeat scandal has boosted reputation of Irish beef
The reputation of Irish beef was "enhanced rather than damaged" by the horsemeat scandal, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has insisted.
Speaking at the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference in Waterford last Friday, Minister Coveney said Irish beef was leading the charge in opening up new export markets.
He pointed out that 15 new markets had opened to Irish food, predominantly Irish beef, in the past 12 months.
He hopes to add the Gulf states of Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain to the list of Irish customers during a trade mission with Bord Bia to the region in October.
A 2001 BSE and scrapie ban on imports of Irish beef and sheep meat to the six Gulf states was lifted in July, opening up a potential market of 43m people to Irish exports.
The minister said that he and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, were working "night and day" to open up the Japanese market, while also focusing on China and the US, which he described as 'giants' in terms of market opportunity.
US speaker Patrick Boyles, president and chief executive of the American Meat Institute in Washington, said Ireland had a very good opportunity to capture a "very profitable" niche market in beef exports to the US, as well as lamb exports. However, he warned that negotiations on a US/EU free trade agreement would be "prolonged and difficult".