The CEO of Bord Bia, Tara McCarthy, has addressed concerns surrounding Irish beef being sent to the UK for further processing.

Speaking at an Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference in Co. Kilkenny this morning, Friday, September 13, McCarty acknowledged that “Aldi has outlined it was going to have product coming in through the UK and that product would have the Quality Mark on it”.

The Bord Bia CEO explained: “What the quality mark means is that the product has been born, reared, slaughtered in Ireland – so it’s Irish product from a quality assured farm that has been inspected by Bord Bia.”

She noted that: “It has been processed in Ireland through a quality assured processor inspected by Bord Bia.”

However, she outlined: “We [Bord Bia] have arrangements that we can – for further processing – inspect plants overseas, allowing quality assured product to arrive in many of our retail customer outlets throughout Europe.

In this instance, Irish product had been sent to the UK for further processing. So it is still quality assured product and it will have the Bord Bia logo on it.

“This is the arrangement Bord Bia is making and it is within our guidelines.

“We are doing this because it’s related to the current impasse – we want to make sure Irish consumers are buying Irish beef in their shops and that no other product will replace that.

We are managing and talking to all of the retailers who are putting arrangements in place to make sure that they are meeting the consumer need in Ireland for Irish beef.

Exclusive partners

Outlining her concerns on the current impasse in the beef sector, McCarthy said: “The biggest threat to us is with customers that have been exclusive partners to Ireland.”

She outlined: “If you’re a customer to Ireland and you share with multiple sources and you say ‘my product is European’ – then you can substitute that easily enough.”

However, McCarthy warned: “If you’re a customer who has put their reputation to say ‘I buy premium Irish beef’ – you’re now vulnerable and customers don’t forget that they’ve been made vulnerable.”

McCarthy used an analogy of a contract Ireland won in China when competing with another country to fulfill the contract, saying: “We were the winners.”

Concluding, she said: “I sincerely hope we won’t be the losers this time.”