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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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‘Only 11,500 finished cattle out of over 1.8 million are organic’ – Burke

Bord Bia is “hugely optimistic about the potential and opportunities to significantly grow the proportion of organic produce from Irish farms”.

That is according to Joe Burke, senior manager of its meat and livestock team, who spoke at Teagasc’s organic beef open day on the farm of John Purcell in Co Tipperary.

He told attendees that “we are starting from a very low base, and from a beef perspective, only 11,500 finished cattle are organic out of over 1.8 million cattle in total”.

“So, that is less than 1%, but it is even closer to 0.5%. There is really strong market demand in order to grow that substantially. We know that on the home markets, there is still some potential there to grow.”

He told attendees that the state agency has been working with three of the biggest Irish retailers to maximise opportunities.

Currently, about 45% of Irish organic beef is sold on the home market; he told the conference.

Organic beef 

Burke continued: “But, even more, significant to that is the proportion, which is exported, which is just over 50%.”

“There is a massive opportunity in the German market, which is our biggest market for Irish organic beef.”

“Then, after that, there are a number of other European markets as well, so we would be really optimistic and positive that the market is there.”

“We know from our market research as well that in some markets, up to 15% of their grocery purchases of consumers are organic, and here in Ireland, that is only around 1%.”

“There are significant market opportunities out there, and in many of those countries, there are less than self-sufficient, even though they produce a lot of organic product, for example beef, themselves in Germany, they need to import so.”

“And, of course, who would be better to supply them but ourselves with a good foothold in that market.”

He said there is a growing cohort of consumers seeking organic offerings that have been produced naturally and sustainability.

He added that in the face of the cost-of-living crisis and price inflation, the organic market “so far has been resilient”.

“There has not been any shrinkage, and in some cases, we are seeing growth,” he concluded.

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