The Minister of State with responsibility for new market development Martin Heydon has today (Friday, March 12) announced that agreement has been reached with Japan on the export of Irish minced meat and meat preparations.

The announcement follows the conclusion of negotiations between Minister Heydon’s officials and their counterparts in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan.

“I am pleased to announce that we have successfully modified the terms of the export health certificate for beef to allow for the export of minced meat and beef burgers to Japan,” the minister said.

This expansion of beef access follows on from the removal of the age restriction on beef exports secured in May 2019 when beef from cattle of all ages became eligible for export to Japan.

“This good news for Irish beef exports reflects the cordial and productive relationships that have been developed with official and trade contacts since the appointment of an agricultural attaché in the Irish Embassy in Tokyo in 2019 and the placement of a Bord Bia market specialist in Japan,” Minister Heydon commented.

Irish agri-food exports to the Asian country were worth more than €147 million in 2020, an increase of €14.6 million or 11% since 2019. The European trade agreement with Japan entered into force on February 1, 2019 as the largest open trade zone in the world.

Irish beef exports to Japan increased from 2,323t in 2019 to 4,120t in 2020, growing in value from €9.5 million to €15.7 million in the same period. The majority of this was in the form of bovine tongues, a delicacy in Japan, and other beef offal.

It is hoped that the agreement of access for Irish minced meat and burgers to Japan will help Ireland increase sales due to the ease of shipping those products by sea and Ireland’s reputation as a supplier of beef burgers in the foodservice channel.

“Enhancing access to existing markets is as important as opening new markets in maximising the potential of Irish beef exports for the benefit of all stakeholders in the sector,” Minister Heydon concluded.

A trader notice advising industry of the new arrangements is expected to issue soon.