Kepak Kilbeggan has become the fifth meat processor to export Irish beef to the US, the Department of Agriculture has said.

It joins ABP Clones, Foyle Donegal, Dawn Charleville and Slaney Foods who already export to the US market.

The Department announced the addition of the plant as the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is promoting Irish beef in Chicago in the US.

Last night (September 8) the Minister hosted an event, featuring top international chefs providing demonstrations on dishes of Irish beef, was attended by a large number of key US buyers and food writers with the aim of increasing the profile of Irish beef as a quality premium product.

Last night’s launch was the perfect way to market Irish beef as we targeted premium buyers, distributors and opinion formers in the mid-west area.

“Building on similar events which we have hosted in New York, Boston and Washington DC in February these high-profile marketing initiatives are contributing greatly the building the brand of Irish beef in the US now that market access has been secured,” Minister Coveney said.

Irish chef Cathal Armstrong and Minister Coveney at Chicago Cut Steakhouse

Irish chef Cathal Armstrong and Minister Coveney at Chicago Cut Steakhouse

Commenting on the volume of exports to date the Minister said that almost 330t of Irish beef have been exported to the US this year.

“This represents a really encouraging start to this trade. Our feedback from the exporters is that this momentum in exports will continue through to the end of 2015.

“It must be remembered also that our approval to date is restricted to intact cuts and my Department is continuing to work intensively with its US counterparts to resolve the outstanding technical difficulties with the export of manufacturing beef,” he said.

‘McDonald’s a key customer of Irish beef’

In addition to the beef launch, the Minister also met members of McDonald’s global management at McDonald’s HQ in Oak Brook, Illinois.

“My meeting with members of McDonald’s global leadership team was an opportunity to further build on the strong partnership between McDonald’s and the Irish agri-food sector based on a common commitment to global sustainability,” he said.

It was great today to outline the Government’s commitment to environmentally and to learn more about McDonald’s global sustainability commitments since they are a key customer of Irish beef.

Minister Coveney also promoted the listing of a range of Irish farmhouse cheeses (IFHC) in a premium Chicago supermarket chain.

“This announcement showcases the opportunities on the US market, not just for multi-national Irish food companies, but for small artisan producers,” he said.

The trade mission continues today (September 9) with the Minister scheduled to mark some significant launches for other Irish dairy companies in the Chicago area.