A senior official from the European Commission has said that he expects livestock products will continue to be eligible for EU promotion funding.

Ireland’s Michael Scannell, deputy director general within the commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), made the comments at the Bord Bia meat marketing seminar.

The EU commission is currently reviewing its agri-food produce promotion policy, which has an annual budget of €180 million.

The commission said that campaigns within the EU market will have to support Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

This means that consumers will be encouraged to move to a more plant-based diet, with less red and processed meat and other foods, such as alcoholic drinks, which the plan says are linked to cancer risks.

Livestock Produce

Michael Scannell told the Bord Bia seminar that a “big share” of the promotion budget is currently allocated to livestock products.

“There are very strident demands that we need to refocus these promotion monies in a more sustainable direction. There are critics who insist that promoting livestock products shouldn’t be part of our agenda.

“We have been consistent, clear and transparent on this. We are perfectly valid in promoting livestock products, but, yes, we have to accept that we have to put the focus on sustainable livestock products,” he outlined.

Scannell said that he expects to see livestock products continuing to be eligible for EU promotion funding.


Due to our grass-based farming sector, he said that Ireland has a very good image, in general.

“This has been a huge asset in the marketing of dairy products and beef. The country has moved upstream in the value chain, focusing increasingly on higher-quality products, for the very good reason that they fetch a higher price.

“People need to stop focusing on increased quantity. If over time, consumption of animal products, including beef, pigmeat and poultry, falls and a lot of trends suggest that it will, that is not necessarily a disaster, far from it,” Scannell stated.

The senior EU official explained that if consumers accept that it is worthwhile to pay more for the “intrinsic qualities of animal products”, this will more than compensate for a reduction in consumption.

Scannell said that livestock produce has benefits in terms of nutrition; taste; biodiversity; and the maintenance of grassland, landscape and rural communities.

“On a health perspective, I personally have zero concerns about eating animal products, including beef. We are satisfied at commission level that we can, could and should continue to find a place for animal products in nutrition.

“We have to act on the science. Even within the scientific community itself you get a great deal of discussion and differences on the respective roles and contributions of individual foodstuffs.

“But on the evidence that is available to date, animal products, including beef, have a perfectly legitimate place in human nutrition and diet,” he added.

However, Scannell did note that there is an over-consumption of animal products in developed economies, adding that some individuals would need to cut back on their consumption.


Scannell also told the seminar that Ireland “needs to be extremely careful that it has the relevant controls in place” for the production of animal products.

“We have very vigilant civil society organisations. Retailers are increasingly asking questions about provenance of product and the conditions under which it was produced.

“Nobody can escape their responsibilities here. You really have to work hard to protect the brand image of the product,” he concluded.