Cracking the 'Big Daddy' of beef markets
The meat factory man was amazed. He'd just been asked by a US beef buyer if he could supply two loads of shins over the next fortnight.
"Two loads? That more than the whole plant would do in eight weeks," he exclaimed.
This is the scale of the opportunity for the Irish meat men who are currently combing the ports, warehouses and supermarkets of the northeast US for business.
This is the most densely populated part of North America, with 56m inhabitants.
And it's striking how visible the Irish links still are everywhere you go. 'Deoch agus bia' proclaim the bar signs, while the place names - James Kelly Bridge or John Sullivan Street - and Famine memorials confirm the 200-year connection with mega cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
So the emotional ties that Minister Coveney tapped into last week were real. I especially liked his line that beef from farms that countless Irish fled in famine just over 150 years ago would now be offered to their wealthy descendants in the coming months.
And the Yanks certainly love their beef and are willing to pay handsomely for it. A good steak invariably costs $50 (€44) in a US steakhouse, but they don't come small. Portion sizes are huge - anyone for a 32oz slab of beef?
With over 11m tonnes of beef consumed annually, the US is the 'Big Daddy' of meat markets.