23 months on – How much Irish beef has made it to the US?

Irish beef secured access to the ‘valuable’ US beef market in January 2015, with the market originally opening for the export of intact cuts.

Announcing the opening of the market, the now former Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney said the US market is a huge prize given the size of the market and the demand that exists for premium grass-fed beef.

But has it lived up to expectations?

According to the current Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, eight Irish plants are currently approved to export beef to the US and Ireland remains the only EU Member State exporting market to this market to date.

On volumes exported, the Minster said an estimated 1,800t of Irish beef was exported in 2015, valued at €14m.

“This trade will be surpassed in 2016 because 2,000t have already been exported so far this year.

Sales are expected to increase as the trade becomes more established and trading relationships become bedded down.

Responding to a Parliamentary Question from the Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, the Minister said the trade is entirely composed of intact cuts for now as Irish plants are not yet approved to export manufacturing beef.

This is despite Ireland gaining approval to export manufacturing beef (mince) to the US in July of this year.

“Beef plants that wish to be approved to export manufacturing beef to the US must implement in full the criteria agreed with the US before trade may commence and interested plants are currently working on completing these steps,” he said.

In July, Meat Industry Ireland (the body representing meat factories) welcomed the announcement that US authorities had approved access for manufacturing beef to the US market.

However, it has also highlighted that trade would not commence immediately as a number of preliminary technical steps need to be completed.

According to MII, the approval was an endorsement of Ireland’s processing, quality and control standards in Ireland and comes after significant effort over the last year.