12 February 2015
By Tom Collins
Cork’s only Senior Minister Simon Coveney, today concluded his promotional visit to the US, with a high profile launch in Boston. The event celebrated the entry of Irish beef to the US market for the first time in 15 years. The Boston event was hosted in the iconic beef restaurant, Smith & Wollensky, famous in the US for the quality of its steak dining.
Commenting on the launch, Ministerfor Agriculture, Food and the Marine Coveney said : “when it comes to the strategy for marketing of Irish beef in the US, Boston is an obvious choice , given its strong links to Ireland and its reputation for fine dining. Today’s event was about giving Irish beef serious profile in the North East. Hosting the event at an iconic US institution like Smith and Wollensky will resonate hugely with the population here. I was delighted also that today’s function had a focus on the hospitality sector, with managers from all of the major hotel brands present”.
Wednesday was the final day of the three-city promotional visit, which saw other high profile launch events in New York and Washington D.C. Commenting on the visit, the Minister said :
“our main aim this week was to build on the momentum of the recent approval of Irish beef by the US authorities. As the first European country to regain entry to the market, Ireland has a first-mover advantage which we capitalised on this week. My objective was to build awareness and generate market opportunities for Irish beef among trade buyers and opinion formers, as well as highlighting just why our beef is renowned around the world for its taste and quality. “
The Minister added: “I was also delighted to have the opportunity to explain Ireland’s national commitment to sustainable food production, including our innovative quality programmes which provide the tools for measuring and improving carbon footprint at all stages of the food chain. That unique message really resonated with the US audience this week.”
As part of the promotional visit, the Minister also met with key US buyers and distributors of beef: ”The feedback from leading American chefs, food companies and distributors has been overwhelmingly positive” Minister Coveney said. “There is a specific high end market opportunity for premium quality, grass rich, hormone-free beef. Irish beef ticks all those boxes, and in addition comes with the guarantee of the highest food safety, quality and traceability standards. The announcement by ABP of its €15m deal with US distributor SYSCO is undoubtedly the first of many such deals to come for Irish exporters”
In addition to the trade promotion events, the Minister also met with senior political figures, including his US counterpart, Secretary for Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Among the issues raised was the possibility of securing approval for Irish lamb exports to the US, although further work is required to finalise the TSE rule that will pave the way for lamb access. .
Concluding, the Minister said this week was another milestone in restoring confidence to the Irish beef sector: “Securing new market access opportunities such as that in the US has been a priority of mine since taking office. I am committed to working with the Irish beef and lamb sector to identify and take advantage of new opportunities around the world. This week was significant in terms of generating awareness in the US of just what Irish beef can offer. Great credit is due to Bord Bia for putting in place an exciting marketing strategy to help Irish exporters reach US buyers and consumers. I’m confident that this week is just the start of an exciting new chapter in the great story that is Irish beef”.