Ireland's ability to export beef to the US creates a 'unique branding opportunity for Irish beef', according to IFA president Eddie Downey.
Based on Ireland's grass-based, Quality Assured production model, Irish beef could secure a premium price and position in that market and he is calling on Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, Bord Bia and the meat processors to pursue a strategy that delivers a worthwhile price premium back to farmers.
Irish beef farmers have shown both the ability and leadership to develop initiatives to measure and demonstrate the quality and sustainability of Irish beef production through the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme, said Mr Downey.
"This initiative is key to prove in a transparent way that Irish beef production is unique, and is operating to higher quality, environmental and sustainability standards than our competitors."
The IFA President said the major challenge remains to generate better economic returns and a price premium for all stakeholders in the supply chain, including farmers, in return for improvements in quality, environmental and sustainability standards. He said marketing agencies and processors must develop innovative strategies to get the message across to consumers on the top quality and provenance of Irish food.
Mr Downer said a good example of how this operates in other countries is the successful marketing of Scottish beef and lamb as a high-value product. He said Scottish beef consistently trades at a significant premium to other beef in the market.
The development of a strong Irish beef brand has multiple advantages, he said. All stakeholders, including farmers, benefit from improved prices. Processors and distributors benefit from a coordinated approach through greater overall market penetration which will drive production. Retailers benefit by meeting the growing demand for an identifiably differentiated product, which allows for market segmentation.