Saudi Arabia lifts Irish beef export restrictions

Previously exports had to come from cattle slaughtered while under 30 months

Saudi Arabia has lifted restrictions on age limits associated with Irish beef exports to the desert kingdom.

Following meetings with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority agreed in principle to lift the current restriction which means Irish beef exports must come from cattle slaughtered while under 30 months of age.

The Department of Agriculture said in a statement that the move will enable progress in expanding market access in Saudi Arabia for Irish beef.

The Saudi authorities also committed to engage further on access for sheepmeat, and the Department said it “raised the possibility” of access for poultry produces in the future. Mr McConalogue said the development was “welcome news” and followed detailed engagements between the Saudis, the Department and the diplomatic network.

"Ireland's food exports to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia amounted to almost €100 million last year, dominated by dairy products. However, I see the market as one with growth potential, especially for Irish beef. I met with retail and food service customers this week in Riyadh and each expressed a strong desire to purchase more Irish products in the time ahead."

Bord Bia director of global business Ailish Forde said Saudi Arabia could be a considerable opportunity for Irish food, with consumers there interested in quality, natural and sustainably produced food.

Mr McConalogue will today take part in events focused on food and agriculture as part of Expo 2020 Dubai, and have further engagements as part of his first in-person trade mission to the Gulf region.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times