The falling euro, allied to record high retail prices, will help ensure that the US becomes much more than a niche market for Irish beef over the coming years, according to the Minster for Agriculture Simon Coveney TD.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show he also said that it will take at least five years for indigenous beef production levels in the US to strengthen in any meaningful way.

“Latest estimates put the projected increase in America beef production at between 1% and 2% annually,” he said.

“However, this will just about keep up with the envisaged increase in US beef consumption levels. Adding to our clear advantage within this market place is the fact that Ireland is at 12 months ahead of those other EU Member States wishing to sell beef in the US.”

Coveney said he does not believe that it will take a multi million euro advertising campaign to kick start trans-Atlantic beef sales from Ireland.

“Bord Bia has built up a tremendous food marketing network in the US. And I see no reason why the Irish beef sector cannot piggy back on this. It is also obvious that the Irish community in places like New York and Boston will actively seek out opportunities to purchase beef that is produced in this country.”

The Minister also made it clear that Irish beef will be sold as a premium product in the US.

“Grass-fed beef represents a growing market niche in that country, one that demands a premium price,” he said.

“The vast bulk of the beef produced in the US comes from intensively managed cattle in feed lots. In contrast, American consumers regard grass fed beef as a much more natural alternative. They also enjoy the different taste experience which beef of this type can offer.”

When questioned about the potential impact of beef imports from the US in the wake of a future US:EU trade deal, Coveney said that the potential impact of such a development would be extremely small.

“In the first instance, exporters in the US would have to comply will all relevant health regulations. And this will rule out all cattle with treated hormones, which make up the vast bulk of the US cattle kill.”