Horse meat scandal boosted Ireland’s reputation - Coveney
15 new markets opened since scare
Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food ,Simon Coveney. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
ALISON HEALY, Food and Farming Correspondent in Waterford
The horse meat crisis has enhanced Ireland’s reputation as a quality food producer and many new markets have opened to Irish beef since the controversy emerged in January, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.
Addressing the Agricultural Science Association conference in Waterford today, he said 15 new markets had opened to Irish food, predominantly Irish beef, in the past year.
“In my view our reputation as a food producer has actually been enhanced by those challenges in the early part of the year, rather than damaged. The proof of that is in the demand for Irish beef.”
Mr Coveney said he would be promoting the agri-food industry in the Gulf region next month while Taoiseach Enda Kenny will travel to Japan later this year “and we are working night and day to open that market to Irish beef which would be a huge new opportunity for our beef sector in terms of a premium export market”.
He said steady, but slow, progress was also being made in opening the US and China markets to Irish beef.
Some 300 agri-food industry figures are attending the Agricultural Science Association’s annual conference.
Matthew Johnson, European dairy analyst with Rabobank in Holland, told delegates that EU milk supply was expected to increase by 7-8 per cent between 2015 and 2020, following the abolition of milk quotas.
This would add 10 billion litres of milk to the EU output, or twice Ireland’s current output.
He said the pace of expansion in different countries will be dictated by the ability of farmers to produce milk cheaply from grass.
“Ireland is one of the very few areas in Europe where farmers can produce over nine tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare per annum. This puts Irish farmers at a distinct advantage in growing milk production,” he said.
Mr Johnson said the highest growth in dairy products would be in items such as infant formula, nutritional products and healthier variants of traditional products while cheese, butter and liquid milk would show the lowest growth.