Ireland seeks rise in beef trade to Italy – but consumption is diving

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Italy is a major market for Irish exports of forequarter beef cuts, such as chuck
Italy is a major market for Irish exports of forequarter beef cuts, such as chuck

Related tags United kingdom European union Beef

Bord Bía is looking to achieve a beef sales boom in Italy, despite falling consumption in the country, as Ireland fears a hard Brexit may damage meat trade with Britain, its top market.

Irish levy body Bord Bía has launched a new campaign for Irish beef in Italy: it aims to drive sales in its fourth-largest market by painting a picture of a cows raised on green and pleasant lands, leading animal welfare standards and care for the environment and climate change.

Bord Bía said focusing on these elements would “resonate​” with Italian meat-eaters, despite beef consumption falling by 18% from 2009 to 2014, according to its own research.

While it may seem strange that the levy board has targeted a country where beef consumption has fallen by double-digits, some statistics do back up the strategy: Italy is Europe’s largest beef importer and still has the second-highest beef consumption rate in Europe – at around 20kg per capita.

Look beyond Britain

And with Brexit uncertainty​ throwing doubts over whether the UK and Ireland will be able to trade freely after the UK exits the EU, Ireland has to look beyond its top beef market to support industry.

[Italy] is now our fourth-biggest market and we are targeting it as a diversification destination to offset negative impacts of Brexit,​” said Bord Bía CEO Tara McCarthy, speaking in Milan.

Our priority now is to convince more buyers and consumers that they can enjoy the taste of Irish beef in the knowledge that it is produced to the highest standards of quality, safety and sustainability through our Origin Green programme.​”

Ireland is the fifth-largest supplier of beef to Italy, in volume terms. Bord Bía, however, claims Ireland is the main exporter of premium beef to Italy​. The country is also a major market for Irish forequarter cuts, such as feather blade and chuck.

Bord Bía​ did not comment on the amount it wanted to increase sales by, or how much it was investing in the advertising campaign.

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