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Written Answers - Food Industry

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 21.  Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the reason pasture-fed beef is being sold as a cheap commodity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7084/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Irish beef industry has had remarkable success in the last decade in transforming its focus from commodity markets to high value EU markets. In fact some 96% of Irish beef exports go to EU markets.

In 2011, beef exports were worth around €1.8 billion to the economy and it is estimated that 96% of total Irish beef exports in volume terms were within the EU where they were destined for an expanding portfolio of high-value retail and food service businesses.

Reflecting the export orientation of the beef industry and consistent with this Government’s emphasis on export growth as a path to economic recovery, the marketing strategy for Irish beef is focused on improving and enlarging its position in export markets. Bord Bia’s promotional strategy is one of differentiation and premiumisation thereby assisting the industry to target the best paying customers in order to secure the best possible returns across Europe. One measure of the efficacy of this strategy is that high-value channels now account for 62% of export volumes, an increase of 26%, or 52,000 tonnes, since 2007. Stronger shipments to Germany and the Netherlands in 2011 can be attributed to a large degree to the positioning of Irish beef as a premium product in those countries. Indeed, the profile of Irish branded beef products in those markets provides irrefutable evidence of the benefits of this strategy for the industry and the country generally.

Industry efforts to develop premium beef brands add product value through innovation which when combined with the promotional work of Bord Bia in highlighting the natural, grass-fed attributes of Ireland’s beef production system have resulted in steady gains in target markets. Underpinning the brand reputation of Irish beef is the Bord Bia Beef Quality Assurance Scheme which has 32,000 certified members who collectively account for over 70% of domestic production. In partnership with The Carbon Trust and Teagasc, Bord Bia has secured accreditation for its beef carbon footprint model. This is now part of the Beef and Lamb [106]Quality Assurance Scheme making it the first such scheme to include environmental criteria. Complementing these activities are the financial supports provided by my Department to fund the work of Teagasc and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation in enhancing producer competitiveness, efficiency and profitability.

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