Ireland could soon commence exporting beef to Iran as negotiations between Irish and Iranian officials are at an advanced stage.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney informed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that in recent days that the Department has finalised veterinary certification for exporting beef to Iran.

The Minister said that he has already had two meetings with the Iranian ambassador and had plans to meet another political delegation.

“We may take a trade mission to Iran in the spring. They have 80 million people and import a fortune’s worth of beef, from Brazil at the moment. They are very interested in trying to get European and Irish beef back into Iranian markets at premium level.”

Minister Coveney also told committee members that he is also going to China in six weeks’ time. “We will have at least 60 Irish companies with us and all the big beef companies will be there. We are currently selling about €40 million worth of beef hides into China, but if we can sell beef into China and can get the restrictions removed, this would be most exciting as there is a very high-end premium market in big cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing.”

He went on to say that the two markets that will excite the industry most are the US and China, however last year we opened markets in Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. “Previously 40% of beef in Saudi Arabia was Irish, so these markets have been a proven success story in the past, and there are multiple new market opportunities opening up for us. This is why we should be able to slaughter more than 30,000 animals a week in the future, and still get premium prices for our products.

“However, we have to be very proactive in opening up some of these new premium markets.”