A group of agricultural-science students who are participating in the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition visited the headquarters of leading retailers Tesco Ireland and Albert Heijn to learn about the marketing and export of Certified Irish Angus Beef.
The study trip - organised by Irish Angus Producer Group, ABP and Kepak - began with a visit to Tesco Ireland who have been involved in the production and promotion of Certified Irish Angus Beef for more than 21 years. The group then boarded a flight to The Netherlands to visit Albert Heijn, the Dutch supermarket chain who is a leading importer of Irish beef.
Charles Smith, General Manager, Irish Angus Producer Group said: “One of the highlights of the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition for the students is undoubtedly this annual study trip. It provides them with the opportunity to meet some of the top retailers in Europe and to gain insights into the selection process of high-quality beef for their consumers. The trip also takes the students full-circle, from their own experience rearing the calves as part of the competition to the marketing of a premium product on a global scale. At Tesco Ireland they learned about what it takes for a product to become one of the exclusive Tesco Finest* brands and the importance of provenance and consistency of quality for the retailer.”
The students from Roscommon Community College; St. Josephs Mercy Secondary School, Navan; Royal School Cavan; St. Ita’s School, Drogheda; Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna and Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk, are all finalists in the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition run by Irish Angus Producer Group, along with its processor partners, ABP and Kepak. The initiative encourages secondary school students to increase their knowledge and understanding of the care and attention required to produce and market the highest quality beef for consumers. The schools were selected by a panel of industry judges to rear six Irish Angus Cross calves up until their slaughter in 2020. In addition to the rearing of calves, the students are undertaking the following research projects:
· The Value of Irish Angus in Suckler Systems - Roscommon Community College students Keelan Gallagher, John Cunniffe and Sean Trundle will explore what Angus contributes to suckler systems. They will look at the benefits of choosing an Angus bull including how output can be increased, coupled with environmental and animal welfare benefits.
· Women in Agriculture - St. Josephs Mercy Secondary School, Navan students Amy Everard, Francesca McKenna, Saidhbh Gaffney-Bent, Ciara Smith and Katie Tully will research the challenges for women in agriculture, farming as a way of life and the benefits of rearing Irish Angus cattle on a family farm.
· The Value of Irish Angus as a Production System - Royal School Cavan students Kelvin McNally, Sophie Reilly, Barry Stratford, Lloyd Hastings and Rachel Alexander will investigate how the Angus breed is suited to various farming systems and land types, focusing on the challenge of farming marginal land.
· The Quality and Flavour of Irish Angus Beef - St. Ita’s School, Drogheda students Conor Belton, Alisha Crosbie and Michael McQuillan will look into what makes Certified Irish Angus Beef superior and the farming activities which can impact the quality of the beef.
· Angus Beef Production in Tandem with Nature - Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna students Amy Woods, Katie Thomas and Seamus MacNamara will research the tradition of cattle farming in the Burren region and the suitability of Irish Angus cattle to this unique part of Ireland
· Benefits of Irish Family Farming Systems - Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk students Gillian Casey, Áine O’Connor and Máire Moylan will explore the tradition of family farming in Ireland, its impact on rural communities and the support which the Irish Angus breed can provide to family farming systems.
The Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition aims to allow students to apply the knowledge they learn in the classroom to a real-life setting. Each of the finalists will receive the financial benefit involved in the selling of the animals to the processors on completion of the project. The winning students also receive an additional grant of €2,000 for their further education. For further information on the project visit www.angusproducergroup.com