Irish organic beef production could grow by as much as 40% in the next five years, according to Mark Zeig of Bord Bia.
Irish beef exports in 2014 totalled 524,000t carcase weight equivalent of this it is estimated that organic beef accounted for approximately 2,800t in total production.
According to Zeig, who was speaking at a recent Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture meeting this beef was marketed both on the home market which is dominated by retail sales, as well as exports to retail and value added customers in markets such as Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Zeig said Bord Bia’s promotional strategy for Irish beef is centred around finding differentiated and premium markets and promoting Irish beef with higher value customers in those markets.
“Organic beef is very much part of this strategy representing a high value, differentiated, niche offering.
“Consumer perceptions of organic are very well aligned with the natural and sustainable image of Irish beef, he said.Also Read: Organic Farming Scheme Launched
Zeig also said that in recent research in some of our key markets such as Germany, Holland and Italy we have found high correlations in positive opinions of Irish beef among consumers with a higher propensity to purchase organic beef.
Earlier this year, Zeig said Irish organic beef secured a listing with one of our largest retail customers in Germany.
“In Britain we are currently undertaking a consumer insight and branding project for an Irish organic beef range with a leading online retailer. This represents an important opportunity for Irish beef, he said.
He added that according to Kantar Worldpanel’s research, organic and branded retail have been identified as two of the most promising growth trends in the UK beef retail category.
In the context of the future outlook, Zeig said it is estimated that organic beef production in Ireland could grow by as much as 40% over the next five years, as a result of the high uptake in organic conversion among beef farmers.
“Feedback from the contact our overseas offices have had with existing and potential customers and from their discussions with exporters suggests this additional volume will be well received in meeting the growing international demand for organic beef.
“Specifically we see opportunities in the retail and food service sectors in Northern Europe, the USA and Asia,” he said.
That said, Zeig stressed that full access to the US market for Irish manufacturing beef and certification of Irish beef plants to export to China will be a prerequisite to unlocking this potential.
On the production side, he said seasonality of supply remains an issue as most customers require a year-round supply capability.
“This is a challenge that the entire sector will need to address,” he said.