Building Ireland’s identity as a food producer outside of the EU can be challenging. Many international buyers would have difficulty finding Ireland on the map, let alone have an understanding of our farming and livestock production systems.  

One avenue to assist in putting Ireland on the global map as a food producer is through EU co-funded campaigns. These are campaigns for which the EU provides between 70% to 80% of the funding and which allow member states to promote their produce to food buyers and consumers inside and outside the EU.

Operating under an EU umbrella allows Ireland to leverage the reputation of the EU while simultaneously building the awareness and reputation of Irish food production systems.

Bord Bia, supported by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM), has pitched for these EU contracts in recent years and has been successful in winning funding of €33.1 million between 2018 – 2023.

Market Diversification

EU co-funded campaigns play a vital role in Bord Bia’s diversification strategy to increase the global reach of Irish food and drink exports. As Irish meat and dairy exporters reduce their reliance on the UK market, the proportion of exports to high-potential markets in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North America, continues to grow. 

Dairy is the most geographically diversified category of all the major Irish food and drink exports with 49% of all dairy exports destined for approximately 115 markets outside the UK or the EU27. 

Since 2010, the volume of Irish meat exported to markets outside of Europe has increased by 251% from 75,126t in 2010, to 263,600t in 2020.

Exports to international markets now account for 20% of all meat exports.

New EU Campaigns 2022-2025

Earlier this month, the European Commission confirmed that Bord Bia has been successful in the bid for EU funding to promote beef and lamb, dairy and horticulture across Asia, Europe and the US in three campaigns valued at €13.4 million (including VAT).

Comprising €9.7 million in EU funding and €3.7 million from Bord Bia and industry funding, these campaigns represent the largest ever investment in third country markets for the promotion of Irish meat and dairy from Europe.

The funding also includes a horticultural fruit and vegetable campaign that will run in Ireland, Belgium, and France. All campaigns will be implemented over the next three years. 

The new dairy campaign (European dairy – the sustainable choice for Asia) will target trade buyers of dairy ingredients and cheese in Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, with a budget of €3.2 million (including VAT).

The overall objective of the campaign is to increase market share for Irish dairy ingredients in the region. This will be the first EU co-funded campaign for the dairy sector managed by Bord Bia.

A new EU Fruit and Vegetable programme will be run in partnership with agencies in France and Belgium with the aim of promoting fruit and vegetables to millennials (25-40 year olds).

With a budget of €5.4 million (of which €1.5 million will be focused on the Irish market) the campaign aims to encourage increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, and will provide information on sustainable consumption such as waste reduction.

Launching next year, Bord Bia will manage a Working with Nature EU beef and lamb campaign in China, Japan, South Korea and the US, with a budget of €4.8 million (including VAT). This campaign will align with the EU Farm to Fork strategy by linking sustainable production with sustainable nutrition and consumption.

The campaign aims to drive awareness of Irish beef and lamb among trade buyers in all markets, and increase the likelihood of purchase in markets where we have access.

Market access

In conjunction with targeting trade and consumer audiences, EU co-funded campaigns can play an important role in progressing and enhancing market access for Irish produce.

From a government to government engagement perspective, the focus will be on securing market access for beef to South Korea and sheepmeat to China during the lifetime of this new beef and lamb campaign.

In September, Minister Charlie McConalogue TD announced a significant step in gaining access to China for Irish sheep meat with the signing of a formal protocol. Beef access to South Korea is also progressing well towards securing full market access.

Ireland already has beef and lamb access to Japan and beef access to the US, while recent progress has been made towards securing sheepmeat access to the US. In early December, DAFM confirmed that US authorities have lifted the ban on EU sheep meat. Sheepmeat exports from the EU to the US were banned due to the presence of scrapie in some EU member states, including Ireland. 

Current campaigns

In addition to the new campaigns, four existing EU campaigns will continue into 2022. These include two horticulture campaigns running in Ireland and Europe promoting potatoes and amenity horticulture; a pork and beef campaign in South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam and a pork and poultry campaign in Mexico and China.

Southeast Asia

Since 2019, Bord Bia has been running a campaign titled Love the Taste, Trust the Quality, promoting EU and Irish pork and beef across South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam. This campaign is due to conclude at the end of March 2022.

Recent activity as part of this campaign has included a series of culinary competitions and online trade seminars. As a result of Covid-19, seminars have switched to a webinar format. This format has proved a successful means of connecting with key pork and beef importers and buyers in each market with 115 Vietnamese importers and media attending the most recent seminar in November.

Now in its second year, Bord Bia’s East meets West culinary competition is running across all three markets as part of the pork and beef campaign.

Judges assess pork dishes prepared for the East meets West culinary competition in Seoul, as part of the EU pork and beef campaign

Foodservice is an important channel for Irish meat exports in Asian markets making the local chef community a key target of the campaign. The East meets West competition challenges chefs, students and influencers to create innovative recipes with Irish pork and beef.

These competitions aim to raise awareness of European and Irish pork and beef and foster an appreciation among these local chefs for its quality, flavour and culinary versatility.

The final cook off for the Filipino competition took place in Manila on November 30 with close to 200 entries, while the final of the South Korean competition was held in Seoul on December 15.

A participant in the East Meets West culinary competition in Seoul prepares Irish pork

China and Mexico

In 2020, Bord Bia commenced a €3.8 million information and promotion campaign in Mexico and China for EU pork and poultry. Approximately 80% of activities have been concentrated on pork as Ireland has approved market access for pork in both China and Mexico.

However, the campaign has also focused on building awareness and support from within the Chinese trade for Irish poultry, which, as of yet, does not have access to China.

China Meat Association

In October, Bord Bia hosted an EU poultry seminar in collaboration with the influential China Meat Association (CMA) at Irish Embassy in Beijing as part of the €3.8 million EU pork and poultry campaign running in both China and Mexico.

Ag Attaché Mary McMahon, speaking at the EU Poultry Technical Seminar
Ag Attaché Mary McMahon, speaking at the EU Poultry Technical Seminar, hosted in the Irish Embassy, Beijing in association with the China Meat Association

The CMA is the representative body of the Chinese meat industry and is approved by the Chinese Government. It represents both state-owned and privately owned meat companies involved in all aspects of meat production.

Attendees included Chinese agricultural organisations, representatives from leading Chinese poultry companies, members of the China Meat Association, the Irish ambassador to China, Ann Derwin, and Bord Bia representatives.

By Declan Fennell, senior manager, EU Promotions