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Here’s the beef, claims and all

Pictured during their recent visit to Washington, D.C. are (l-r) Rory Fanning, Managing Director of Slaney Foods International, Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, and Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.


By Ray O’Hanlon

It’s Irish, USDA approved, and coming to a store, hopefully near you.

Slaney Foods International, based in Bunclody County Wexford, is celebrating after landing a deal to supply premium Irish Hereford beef to stores in the United States.

The deal, facilitated due to Slaney’s relationship with the Lidl Ireland supermarket chain, was actively supported by Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

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It comes as Irish beef secures a USDA seal of approval after three years of engagement between Bord Bia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The decision, said a release, ensures that Irish Beef sold in the USA from Bord Bia approved plants can now carry the USDA shield and provide a further guarantee to U.S. buyers and consumers that the unique claims Bord Bia makes are validated by their own national authority, the USDA.

In the wake of Brexit, and a challenging beef export market, this is welcome news for the Irish beef industry, said the release.

Bord Bia, the Irish food board, welcomed USDA’s approval of its proposal to advertise “the unique qualities of Irish beef in the United States” and said the decision will accelerate its activities with beef buyers and retailers and bring its message closer to the U.S. consumer.

The USDA seal of approval has now been given to the claims that Irish beef is: more than 80% grass diet; from farms participating in Bord Bia’s Origin Green Sustainability Scheme; fully traceable from farm to fork; from quality assured farms and processing systems; pasture for more than 6/7/8 months per year; raised on family farms; raised without the use of growth hormones and treated responsibly with use of antibiotics.

The approval, stated the release, is the culmination of three years of engagement with the USDA and a recent visit by the USDA to Ireland, this to audit Bord Bia’s systems as the competent authority in registering and monitoring the Irish exporters who wish to use the claims.

“I am extremely pleased that we have received the green light to proceed with a measure which has the potential to add significant value to our beef offering to the U.S.

“Irish beef processors will now have the opportunity to market their produce as ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ subject to adherence to the verification process. Such a marketing tool will allow our beef exporters pursue the Premium U.S. beef market and will boost Irish beef exports to the U.S. which will be crucial in terms of Brexit mitigation,” said Irish Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

“Bord Bia has worked hard to ensure that this application was a success and approval now allows us to bring our message closer to the U.S. consumer,” said Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.

“Earning the trust of the USDA after such a rigorous process will also enhance Ireland’s reputation in other markets and Bord Bia will maximize all opportunities this enhanced creditability may present.

“Our green environment is a real point of difference, and within the U.S. market, Ireland is well-known as green and natural, while the U.S. consumer increasingly demands grass fed meat products.”

Rory Fanning, Managing Director for Slaney Foods International added: “Our partnership with Lidl Ireland is very special in terms of the leverage to develop new markets for our product.

“Our relationship grew from humble beginnings, but Lidl was quick to spot the potential to further develop one of Ireland's premium food products, grass fed Irish beef. We’ve been very grateful for the support from Lidl, Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture in helping open up the U.S. market to us and we look forward to the American consumer getting a taste of premium grass fed Irish beef.”

Lidl is a German supermarket chain with a significant presence in Ireland. The company has recently started opening stores in the U.S.

Irish beef products actually returned to the U.S. market a couple of years ago after an absence of some years. The latest initiative is designed to bring Irish beef products directly to consumers by way of Lidl stores.

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