Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 06 February, 2007
Written Answers. - Beef Exports.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her plans to promote the sale of Irish beef and beef products worldwide on the basis of high quality husbandry, production, packaging, processing and eco-friendly standards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4114/07]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: Beef must be considered as one of the most robust and successful Irish export industries. This reflects the significant efforts of producers, processors and Bord Bia. In 2006, the Irish beef industry was worth €1.5 billion in foreign earnings to the Irish economy. Ireland is the largest export supplier within the EU and the largest net exporter in the northern hemisphere. Irish companies are major suppliers across Europe and have now the best portfolio of retail accounts of any food sector in Ireland. Continual investment in production and marketing has resulted in Irish companies leading the way in added value beef products that satisfy consumer demand.
The market position of Irish beef has changed considerably over recent years reflecting the emerging deficit in the EU beef market and an improving market profile of Irish beef in key markets. In 2006, 93 per cent of beef exports were destined for EU markets, which compares to just 50 per cent as recently as 2000. The proportion of exports going directly to retail customers has also increased strongly. While international markets continue to be important in the market mix, with ongoing efforts to re-open markets and develop trade, the majority of promotional activity has taken place in the EU.
Within the EU, a great deal has been achieved through Bord Bia’s Strategy for Irish Beef, which has resulted in a significant increase in market penetration for Irish product in this high value marketplace. Over recent years that agency’s marketing strategy has focused on the development of additional markets, attracting the more discerning customer and solidifying the reputation of Irish beef in the mind of consumers.
The current phase involves direct consumer promotion at point of sale, encouraging product trial, building loyalty and growing the market. Promotions include on-pack offers of holidays to Ireland, branded kitchenware, recipe books and calendars to keep the Irish beef brand foremost in consumers’ minds, as well as extensive point of sale material which serves to make Irish beef highly visible on supermarket shelves. In September 2005, Bord Bia, in its first ever pan-European campaign, launched a three year, €10 million Irish Beef marketing initiative with a view to growing sales in 8,000 retail outlets. The campaign had the objective of building sales of Irish beef in European supermarkets and establishing the ‘Irish Beef’ brand in the minds of consumers.
 During the autumn of 2006, the second year of the campaign, on-pack promotions were run in 7,500 stores across nine countries — Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland. Thirty supermarket groups, with a throughput of at least 40 million people per week, participated. The promotion was tailored appropriately for maximum impact in each country.
In 2007, the final year of the current European Beef Promotion programme, promotion will be ongoing throughout the year, in order to take account of the increased de-seasonalisation of Irish beef supplies. Central to the campaigns will be additional promotions with the inclusion of additional retailers and markets, support for new products and listings and concentrating on the premium image of Irish beef in order to build a preference for our product in the minds of consumers. During 2007 Bord Bia will be in consultation with the industry in order to develop a new beef strategy to build on the position of Irish beef and especially the development of our presence in specialty and niche markets.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. Beef Exports.