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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Very real challenges exist when it comes to growing and co-ordinating the supply base of organic beef’

“There are very real challenges that exist when it comes to growing and co-ordinating the supply base of organic beef so that the sector is well placed to benefit from the growing demand for organic produce.”

That is what the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConlalogue, conveyed to the Social Democrats’ Holly Cairns earlier this week when she pressed the minister about organic beef.

She asked the minister about the steps the DAFM is taking to address the “low” prices that farmers are receiving for organic beef.

He told the deputy that the economic principle of supply and demand determines “the market price of any product, and I have no role in this”.

He said it is the DAFM’s commitment to ensure that the current market and potential markets for Irish organic beef are “explored, are viable and will lead to an optimal price premium” for farmers.

McConalogue told Cairns:

“A significant proportion of the organic beef produced in Ireland is destined for customers on the domestic market. All major retailers in the Irish market list organic beef in some capacity.”

“Irish organic beef is also exported to Germany, Britain, Netherlands, and the Nordics. However, it is difficult to get an indication of the export market share at this time.”

He stated that organic beef production in Ireland has been estimated at 3,150 tonnes in 2021, accounting for less than 1% of overall beef production (619,800 tonnes CSO).

Bord Bia

McConalogue confirmed that Bord Bia, under the aegis of the Department, continues to invest in identifying and supporting export market opportunities for Irish organic companies, including those seeking to export beef, through their network of overseas offices and trade events.

Central to this, he explained, is the planned return to the BioFach trade fair – the “leading” event for organic produce in July 2022.

He is confident that Bord Bia’s organic client companies will be able to build new business and generate new leads.

Bord Bia, along with DAFM, will deliver a ministerial trade mission to Germany around Biofach. It will help advance lead generation activities in Europe’s largest organic market.

He confirmed that there is currently a project underway in Bord Bia to quantify the volume of organic produce available for the domestic retail market/export in each individual category.

Therefore, this will enable Bord Bia to best align its supports to the Irish organic sector. Furthermore, with key retailers, the state agency will also engage in a promotional campaign this summer to raise awareness of Irish organic products.

Markets and consumers

The minister believes “this will improve understanding and grow preference amongst Irish consumers for all categories of Irish organic produce, including beef”.

“To reap the benefits of growing demand for organic produce, it is important that we have increased supply available on a consistent basis.”

“The significant leakage of product in the beef sector between farm of origin and final processing is a particular issue.”

“The Organic Strategy Forum, which has met twice in 2022, will be examining this topic further in 2022 with a view to addressing all the issues that cause product leakage to occur to recommend remedial actions,” the spokesperson concluded.

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