The Irish food organisation Bord Bía announced a strategy this week to lift beef exports to Italy. The strategy announcement came as figures showed Irish meat sales to its largest market, the UK, were falling. GlobalMeatNews asked Bord Bía if its Italian strategy represented a pessimistic view of the impact of Brexit, but the organisation described the announcement as “normal marketing initiatives”.
Still, it may be that the levy board is actually planning for the worst, with uncertainty over EU member Ireland’s future trading relationship with Britain still unclear.
Before further speculation, this is what Bord Bía said when asked if its strategy for Italy masked a dreary Brexit outlook: “Market diversification has always been a key strategy for growing beef exports and the EU has always been seen as a premium market. While the UK is by far our largest market, 2016 saw beef exports to the UK fall from 54% to 50%, while exports to the EU26 rose from 43% to 45%.”
‘Considerable potential’ in Europe
Brexit is not mentioned, but it would seem logical that Bord Bía is turning to in-growth markets to generate revenue for Irish beef.
Bord Bía declined to comment when asked to put a figure on how much it hoped Italian exports would grow by. The firm did, however, point out that Italy – the fourth largest market for Irish beef – was not its sole focus for market expansion.
“We also see considerable potential for growth in other EU countries, including Germany and the Netherlands,” a Bord Bía spokesperson said.
Irish food and drink exports have seen significant growth and January figures showed value has increased for seven years in succession.
Meat performed particularly well, but Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said at the time that international export expansion was important to “mitigate the risks” of Brexit.