A representative from ABP caused considerable consternation among the hundreds of farmers taking part in the Beef Forum at this week’s Beef 2014 event by referring to Irish beef as being considered as a ‘filler’ by UK supermarkets.

However, ABP has since said that this is not reflective of its position and focus. “ABP would like to confirm that the wording used by our representative at Wednesday’s Beef Forum is not reflective of our position and our focus on providing the best quality beef for the Irish, UK and European markets. Nobody has done more to promote Irish beef in the UK and across Europe than ABP and we have a proven track record of supplying Irish beef to many of Europe’s top retailers as well as over 80 Michelin starred restaurants.”

The UK remains the largest export destination for Irish food and drink with 42% of exports worth an estimated €4.1 billion reaching that market in 2013, according to Bord Bia figures.

For 2013, it is estimated that the value of meat and livestock exports increased by 8% or €245m to reach €3.3 billion. This leaves the sector accounting for a third of food and drink exports.

It’s Export Performance and Prospects report from earlier this year stated that the value of beef exports increased by almost 10% reflecting a rise of 5% in output and a 4% increase in average prices. As a result, exports were valued at just under €2.1 billion. It also said that a jump of a third in cattle exports and a doubling in sheep shipments helped drive a rise of 11% in the value of livestock exports to leave trade valued at an estimated €240m.