The EU will fund €3m, with the remaining €750,000 coming from Bord Bia’s own budget. The campaign will target business buyers as part of an EU drive to promote the food safety, quality assurance and sustainability credentials of European grass-fed beef and lamb.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said this was the first Irish programme approved under a new EU promotional funding regime. He added that the campaign would be timely considering the “unique challenge” posed by Brexit.

“Identifying market opportunities, building awareness and securing business in a more diversified range of markets has never been more important to the future of our quality food production,” Minister Creed said.

The announcement comes as Bord Bia exhibits at Foodex, a Japanese food trade fair attracting 80,000 food buyers, importers, processors, retailers, restaurateurs and chefs. The agency opened an office in Singapore last September to boost exports in the region.

“This additional funding has enabled us to significantly intensify our promotional work in the Asian market, including participation at five key trade shows in the region, compared to two last year,” said Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy.

Ireland exported 1,500t of beef to Hong Kong last year and 1,200t to Japan. The Department of Agriculture has been trying to secure access to China for Irish beef and to both China and Japan for Irish lamb. The BSE ban on Irish beef exports to China was lifted two years ago but no factory has yet been approved to ship beef there.

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