Farmers attending the Teagasc’s recent organic farm walk in Mallow, Co. Cork were told that the main processors in Ireland are currently paying in the region of €4.70/kg for organic beef.
According to Teagasc, despite the recession, the sales of organic foods in Ireland has stabilised at €98 million per year. Fresh meat sales account for approximately €6million per annum.
Teagasc is also confirming that in Europe, the market for organic food has quadrupled in size over the last 10 years. Teagasc believes this growth represents an opportunity for Irish farmers to supply more organic food, especially organic beef.
In 2012, there were over 9,000 organic cattle slaughtered in Ireland by 526 farmers. Teagasc says the majority of animals were slaughtered by processors. Approximately 5% of animals were slaughtered in organically certified abattoirs with the meat sold through farmers markets, box schemes or direct to consumers, speciality retailers, local shops or restaurants.
Teagasc advises that beef farmers interested in organic conversion should speak with other organic farmers, processors and wholesalers about potential markets. The major factory outlets for organic beef are Goodherdsmen, Slaney Meats and AIBP. Premium prices of +15% to +20% have generally been achievable for organic beef in recent years.
The majority of organic cattle are exported (~70%) mainly to UK and mainland Europe, especially Germany and Scandinavia. There is also a market available at present for calves to supply the organic veal market.
Teagasc also highlights that the organic beef price fluctuates throughout the year, it is usually at its lowest from October to January and large volumes of grass fed animals are presented for slaughter during this time. Organic cattle sold in spring tend to achieve highest prices but they also incur higher costs associated with winter finishing.