Irish beef should secure access to the US market before the end of this year, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney. He made the prediction courtesy of his presentation to the ICMSA Annual Meeting in Limerick.

“I initially thought that Irish beef would sell only in ethnic Irish outlets throughout America. However, the good news is that US beef prices are currently ahead of those on-offer in the EU.

“This is the first time that such circumstances have ever presented themselves. As a result, there is now a tremendous opportunity to market Irish beef throughout the US retail sector.”

He said that this, in its own right is good news for Irish beef processers and producers. “However, looking to the long term, this new market opportunity will strategically reduce our reliance on the UK. We must expand our global footprint in terms of developing a sustainable future for our beef industry.”

The Minister also confirmed that Chinese veterinary inspectors will visit Ireland during the second week of December.

“They will be visiting all of our redmeat plants in line with an agreement reached with the Chinese government during my recent visit to that country.”

Coveney stressed that, if the inspections go according to plan, then Irish beef could be featuring in retail outlets throughout China before the end of 2015.

“We are ahead of all our EU competitors in terms of securing retail beef outlets in China. And this is more good news for the Irish redmeat sector.

“But we must continue to receive a premium return for our produce. Only in this way can we deliver sustainable prices at farmgate level. But given the prospect of what is about to happen in relation to the US and China, I see no reason why this objective cannot be secured.”