Irish beef exports to the US last year were worth approximately €11m according to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture.

This is significantly short of the €50-100m value the Minister for Agriculture had predicted was possible in the first year, when he launched Irish beef on the US market.

Ireland was the first and is still the only Member State to get USDA and FSIS approval to export beef to the US, and the export value of beef to the US in 2015 was approximately €11m the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.

Brendan Gleeson, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Agriculture, told the Bord Bia Meat Prospects Seminar that Irish beef exports in the form of mince (or grinding or manufacturing beef) will be next on the menu for the US.

“Beef intended for grinding (mince) is the next step for Ireland.”

In relation to Irish beef mince, he said there is positive progress being made and the dossier is now with the US Department of Agriculture.

“There’s momentum behind this, and we’re optimistic something will happen in the first half of 2016 regarding grinding.”

Manufacturing (mince) beef is considered the big prize for Irish beef in the US market, when and if it is approved.

It is expected that the US market for beef mince would be less challenging in terms of distribution and finding purchasers as the scale is much larger.

CSO figures for the first six months of 2015 showed that Irish beef exports to the US were at 31t with a value of €194,000 to the Irish economy.

By mid November, those figures were up to 1,300t valued at €8.5m.

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, had initially said that the US could take up to 20,000t of beef, worth €50m-€100m in the first year, when he took part in a trade mission to the US in February 2015.