The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) is to lead a trade mission to the US next spring to promote Irish sheepmeat.

It follows a decision to remove the ban on sheepmeat from the European Union (EU) entering the US.

Exports of this meat from the EU to the US were banned due to the presence of scrapie disease in certain EU member states. This ban has now been removed.

Bord Bia said this is an important step forward for Irish producers to access the US market.

US consumption

Overall sheepmeat consumption in the US is forecast to stand at 185,000t this year, according to Bord Bia.

In 2020, 133,000t of sheepmeat valued at €886 million was imported into the US and accounted for two thirds of total consumption.

The two largest suppliers of imported sheepmeat to the US are New Zealand and Australia, representing 99% of all imports in volume terms.

Bord Bia said growing lamb consumption levels in the US, albeit from a small base, have resulted in an increasing demand for lamb, however, this is not expected to stimulate an upturn in domestic production.

Irish sheepmeat

Chief executive of Bord Bia, Tara McCarthy said the group is delighted with the prospect of promoting Irish sheepmeat to the US in the coming months.

“Our focus will be on raising the profile of Irish grass-fed sheepmeat through awareness of it as a premium, natural product sourced from Quality Assured farms, and fully traceability from farm to fork,” McCarthy said.

Next spring, the DAFM will lead a trade mission with Bord Bia to the US, which will include a series of “lamb-focused meetings” with key importers.

Bord Bia US manager, Henry Horkan commented: “Through engaging with key importers and customers over the coming months, we will pave the way for the launch of lamb in the US.”