How have recent beef events affected Ireland’s reputation abroad?

Ireland won’t lose its reputation as a reliable supplier of beef due to the loss of business seen in the recent upheaval in the beef sector – but a repeat of this could prove to be a different story, CEO of Bord Bia Tara McCarthy has warned.

The CEO was speaking to AgriLand at the Department of Agriculture’s Open Policy Debate on Ireland’s Agri-Food Strategy to 2030, held in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, yesterday, Wednesday, October 16.

Commenting on the recent events in the beef sector and how this impacted on Ireland’s international markets and buyers, McCarthy said: “It’s been a very challenging couple of months.

“I guess you could say it’s been a very challenging 18 months when you look back at the whole dynamic here, whether it’s been the weather forces, the increased costs that farmers have incurred, and then the poor returns that the market has delivered for them.

Obviously, the climax of that has been the blockades and the continued underlying tension between farmers and processors that exists.

“What we’re looking towards is what the market and how the market is responding to this.

“We let down our customers when those blockades happened – and that’s not putting blame on anything – that is a fact. Customers were not delivered with the products that they had ordered.”

McCarthy highlighted that Ireland’s reputation has been as a very reliable supplier for the last 20 years.

You don’t lose that reputation for one incident – but you do lose that reputation if you repeat it.

“What our concern would be – and I think I’ve said this previously – we haven’t to my knowledge lost contracts because of this, but we have lost business; we didn’t supply an opportunity that was there for us.

“But what now is happening is, if we can’t be quite definitive to the market and say that ‘we have a journey ahead of us; we can give you security of supply’, then we are putting doubt in our own reputation as being a reliable supplier.”

McCarthy said that, as an export-oriented country, Ireland wants to be in the international market as a reliable supplier.

“Our markets are all over the world and we need to very confidently tell that market that there is no disruption in the supply of product from Ireland.”