An agreement in principle has been made between Ireland and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to lift the current restriction which has seen Irish beef exports to the country only being permitted for cattle slaughtered under 30 months of age.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue described the development as “progress and a really good outcome”.

Further technical engagement will now take place to complete the necessary formalities to confirm the access for beef from cattle slaughtered over 30 months of age, according to the Minister.

The agreement in principle was made during a meeting between Minister McConalogue and the leadership of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday.


While Minister McConalogue was unable to give a specific timeline for the finalisation of the beef export deal, he said: “Hopefully now we can move forward promptly and we won’t put an immediate timeline on it, but certainly the important thing is that the agreement is there in principle.

“It is now clear and agreed that we will be given access for the 30-month beef moving forward.

“It is welcome news and comes following detailed engagement with the Saudi competent authorities by my Department, with support from the Embassy of Ireland in Riyadh and the agricultural attaché for the Gulf region,” he said.

McConalogue said that this week’s trade mission to the Middle East and meeting the KSA authorities in person was really important in securing the agreement.


Ireland’s food exports to KSA amounted to almost €100m in 2021, although the majority of this was made up of Irish dairy product.

Minister McConalogue see’s the KSA 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.

"Some 70% of the Saudi population is under the age of 30, with a demand for quality and a growing interest in the link between health and good nutritious food.

"Irish beef is synonymous with quality, sustainability and safety in the Gulf region, and I am confident that the door will soon be open for a wider range of Irish beef access to the Saudi market,” he said.


Bord Bia director of global business Ailish Forde said getting the Minister “in front of” the relevant KSA officials was important in progressing the expansion of beef access to the market.

She said Bord Bia will now have “someone on the ground” who can “follow up with detailed technical meetings” on finalising the agreement.

When asked what Irish food commodities have performed best during this week’s trade mission to the Middle East, she said: “There’s been a lot of interest in beef, I would have to say, here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

Forde highlighted the potential for increasing interest in Irish beef in the Middle East following its use by influential chefs in the region.

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