France remains a key market for Irish beef with expected sales of 52,000 tonnes in 2014 representing 4% increase on 2013 levels, according to Bord Bia.

However, it says the market has been more challenging this year due to a more difficult economic climate with increased consumer prices impacting negatively on consumption which is expected to decline for the year by 1%.

Bord Bia says the French retail sector came under pressure from beef producers who have seen their farm gate prices only increase by 12% over the past 10 years while retail prices have increased by 65%.

The result was an intense farm lobby for 100% French beef in retail and food service outlets.

Nevertheless, lower French disposals coupled with improved live exports to North Africa provided sustained opportunities for Irish beef exporters. Ireland currently supplies 15% of the total fresh and frozen beef import market in France, behind Holland (24%) and Germany (19%).

Bord Bia says its strategy in France is to focus on building sustainable Irish premium breed and branded business in retail and foodservice while also concentrating our efforts on trade and image development.

It says the Origin Green programme and the Chefs’ Irish beef Club initiatives are instrumental in achieving this.