Irish beef burgers and minced meat are now eligible for export to Japan, Minister of State with responsibility for new market development Martin Heydon has announced.

Agreement has been reached with the Japanese authorities on the export of Irish minced meat and meat preparations.

This expansion of beef access follows on from the removal of the age restriction on beef exports secured in May 2019 when beef from cattle of all ages became eligible for export to Japan.

Minister Heydon said: ‘‘I am pleased to announce that we have successfully modified the terms of the export health certificate for beef to allow for the export of minced meat and beef burgers to Japan.

‘‘This good news for Irish beef exports reflects the cordial and productive relationships that have been developed with official and trade contacts since the appointment of an agricultural attaché in the Irish Embassy in Tokyo in 2019 and the placement of a Bord Bia market specialist in Japan,” he said.

Agri-food exports to Japan

Irish agri-food exports to Japan were worth more than €147m in 2020, an increase of €14.6m or 11% since 2019.

The European trade agreement with Japan, which entered into force in 1 February 2019 as the largest open trade zone in the world, provides an excellent opportunity to expand food and drink trade with Japan.

Irish beef exports to Japan increased from 2,323t in 2019 to 4,120t in 2020, growing in value from €9.5m to €15.7m in the same period, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

The majority of this was in the form of bovine tongues, a delicacy in Japan, and other beef offal.

The agreement of access for Irish minced meat and burgers to Japan should help Ireland increase sales due to the ease of shipping those products by sea and the Ireland’s reputation as supplier of beef burgers in the food service channel, the Department of Agriculture said.