Bullock and heifer beef remains the first choice of European buyers seeking a premium beef product, despite the higher carbon efficiency credentials of young bull systems, the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference heard last week.

Irish beef gains access to premium shelf space and high continental prices as its steer and heifer beef is recognised as “unique” in a European context, Bord Bia’s meat sector director John Murray said.

Murray acknowledged that there is a benefit there in terms of carbon footprint.

However, he said that feedback from customers which Bord Bia has been targeting, s that they want prime steer and prime heifer product.

The CEO of Dawn Meats, Niall Brown, commented that the eating quality associated with bull beef would prove difficult to pitch as a premium product able to access high-value markets.

“The reason why we are exporting 90% of our beef from this country and getting on to prime position on the shelves of Europe is because of taste and tenderness,” Brown said.

If consumers are placed under blind taste test conditions “they are all going for the steer and heifer beef,” he maintained.