Swiss chefs sample Irish beef on Bord Bia trip

Seven Swiss chefs and two food journalists were hosted by Bord Bia last week and were taken on a nationwide tour of the country.

The aim was to showcase Ireland’s beef industry and build on Ireland’s positive image in Switzerland as the home of quality, traceable and sustainably produced food.

The chefs are members of the Swiss branch of Bord Bia’s Chefs’ Irish Beef Club, which brings together Michelin star and other renowned chefs who promote and use Irish beef in high-end restaurants.

As ‘Irish beef’ brand ambassadors, these award-winning chefs assist Bord Bia in driving the premium image of Irish beef along with other Irish food and beverages across key markets.

As part of a two day tailored itinerary taking in Waterford and Tipperary, the group visited Eddie Keane’s beef farm in Youghal, Harty’s Oysters in Dungarvan and toured ABP’s slaughtering and deboning facility in Cahir.

They also saw at first hand the practical benefits of Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance Schemes and Bord Bia’s Origin Green sustainability programme.

Arno Sgier, who owns the Michelin starred Restaurant Traube in Trimbach summed up the Swiss chefs’ view of Irish beef, saying “the fact that the animals are grass fed and the production is sustainable, has a positive effect on quality and taste and above all, consistency”.

The other chefs making up the “Magnificent Seven” were, Thierry Marcel Fischer (Schlosshotel, Binningen), Markus Gass (Adler, Hurden), Dominique Lambelet (Paste Ines), Urs Keller (Kongresshaus, Zürich), Heinz Rufibach (Cuisinier, Zermatt) and Tobias Funke (Zur Fernsicht, Heiden).

The Swiss Market

Switzerland is regarded as a prized marketplace for exporters of premium quality produce where the average food spend per capita is €4,919/annum compared to the European average of €2,430 (according to IGD data).

Bord Bia said that as one of the wealthiest countries in the world its affluent society boasts an impressive appetite and spending power for luxury, high quality goods.

Irish food and drink exports to Switzerland were worth over €44m in 2014, it said.

Bord Bia’s Nicolas Ranninger who accompanied the group said that Switzerland is a small and complex market with specific requirements and legislation for imported food.

Ireland exported approximately 2,000t of beef there in 2014.

“Ireland enjoys an excellent reputation for the quality of its meat, with exports worth over €26m in 2014.

“Initiatives such as the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club allow renowned chefs meet the Irish producers and understand what differentiates our products and is essential to maintaining and growing our reputation in this lucrative market,” he said.