Ireland must continue to build on its key attributes as a meat supplier, focusing on sustainability, quality and safety, chief executive of Bord Bia, Jim O’Toole has said.

This reputation has been built up over many years and gives Irish meat a distinct competitive advantage in export markets, he said.

Exports of Irish meat and livestock increased by 15% and reached a total value of €4 billion in 2022, according to figures by Bord Bia.

A continued focus on the long-term sustainability expectations of global buyers is needed, and farm sustainability must keep pace with the customers’ sourcing needs, O’Toole said

The importance of meeting the sustainability needs of global customers of Irish meat will be discussed at Bord Bia’s Meat Marketing Seminar today (Friday, January 13).

Speaking before the event, O’Toole said Bord Bia is committed to supporting farmers and producers to meet these evolving needs through the partnership approach of the Origin Green programme,

Irish meat exports

The value of Irish livestock exports grew by 8% in 2022 to €230 million, including 285,000 head of live cattle exported which represented a 15% year-on-year increase.

Beef exports reached €2.5 billion (512,000t) in 2022, up 18% in value on 2021, while sheepmeat exports rose by 17% to reach €475 million (75,000t).

Despite significant cost pressure on producers, Irish pigmeat exports rose by 2% at €540 million, and Irish poultry exports grew by 14% to €143 million as stronger prices offset slightly lower volumes.

Valued-added meats, which includes processed meats such as burgers, reached a record €900 million in 2022, according to Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects Report 2022/2023.

Bord Bia seminar

Bord Bia’s Meat Marketing Seminar will examine the performance of the Irish meat sector in 2022 and discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities in 2023.

Important themes affecting the Irish and global meat industry including inflation, meat consumption levels, and the sustainability requirements of customers will also be addressed.

Over 200 attendees are expected at the event in the Killashee Hotel, Naas, which will be opened by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Martin Heydon.

Bord Bia’s Meat Marketing Seminar

The seminar will hear how the Origin Green programme is working in collaboration with Teagasc and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) to support farmers in meeting agriculture’s obligations under the Climate Action Plan.

Sustainability is likely to return to the top of the agenda among governments this year, guest speaker at today’s seminar, Rupert Claxton of Gira, Consultancy and Research said.

“The disruption of the Ukraine war, and resultant inflationary impact of high food and energy prices led governments to focus on controlling inflation in 2022, especially in Europe.

“However, in 2023 they will refocus on progressing the EU Green Deal and its implementation. This will give some clarity at farm level on what is changing and will present a new set of focus points and goals.”

The seminar also features the director of agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture with Sainsbury’s, Gavin Hodgson who will speak about Sainsbury’s commitment to sustainable sourcing.

“Farm-level investment is a key first step towards ensuring we are able to deliver high-quality, sustainable products to our customers today and in the future,” he said.