Last autumn’s launch of Bord Bia’s ‘Grass Fed Standard’ marketing initiative is helping to deliver an enhanced profile for Irish beef in the UK, according to the organisation’s senior manager for meat and livestock, Joe Burke.

“The feedback we are getting from both the trade and consumers is confirming this welcome trend,” he added.

We went on to television in the UK on the back of the launch and we intend to follow this up, particularly from a digital marketing perspective, in the very near future.

The 'Grass Fed Standard' allows Bord Bia to track and verify the percentage of grass consumed in the diet of Irish beef herds.

“We are the first national organisation to go down this road,” Burke explained.

PGI for Irish grass-fed beef

The Bord Bia representative also confirmed that the principles enshrined within the 'grass-fed' beef initiative feature prominently within the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status application for 'Irish grass-fed beef' that was recently submitted to Brussels.

He added:

“The attainment of PGI will be another boost for the Irish beef sector. However, it would be not be appropriate to discuss its impact on beef sales until such time as we have secured full approval from the EU.”

Meanwhile, it’s a case of Bord Bia doubling down on its efforts to make contact with the UK’s retail and food service sectors as the organisation clearly communicates the continuing availability of Irish beef in the new, post-Brexit world.

Burke commented:

“There are tremendous commonalities between the Irish and UK beef sectors. This reality is well accepted by customers for Irish beef throughout Britain.

There is a tremendous degree of equivalence between the Bord Bia farm quality assurance scheme and the measures operated by Red Tractor.  And, again, this is well accepted by the beef trade in the UK.

UK market for beef

Burke went on to point out that Britain will remain 75% self-sufficient in beef.

“Currently, Ireland accounts for 80% of the beef imports coming into the UK. This state of affairs is not going to change," he added.

“Our surveys confirm the high degree of acceptance for Irish beef at consumer level in the UK. We are continuously feeding the results of this work through to retailers and those companies working in the food service sector.”

Burke is very aware that recent months have seen a number of UK food retailers committing to source home-produced beef only.

He commented:

“These were nationalistic sentiments expressed in the run-up to the Brexit trade deal.

“Bord Bia will continue to communicate the benefits of Irish beef to all retailers in the UK.

“The reality remains that the country will continue to import significant quantities of beef in order to meet consumer expectations. Irish beef processors are well placed to meet this demand," Burke concluded.