Irish beef is not “directly competing” with that produced in the US and American exporters rarely encounter it in global markets, says the United States Meat Federation (USMF).

The federation’s Asia director Sabrina Yin said that Irish beef is “very different” when it comes to steak quality and it doesn’t have as high a marbling component as US-produced steak, something she said is to American beef’s advantage.

However, she said: “For some of the secondary cuts, some of those cut from the leg or round, as long as you cook it for a long time, sometimes it doesn’t matter actually which country it comes from.”

Yin was speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at food and beverage trade show Food Hotel Asia in Singapore this week.

Several US beef exporters present at the USMF stand at the event agreed with her view that Irish beef can’t compete on quality with that produced in the US.

‘Grain fed’

Yin said US beef production is “special because of our grain-fed attributes” and highlighted that US beef exporters “have a very good market presence for the last close to two to three decades”.

“We have special, unique restaurants that really require the quality of our product. For me, [the Asian] region is improving and getting very big.

"More and more people can afford better-quality meat. They’re willing to pay for it, so I think it’s a really good market opportunity for us."

United States Meat Federation Asia director Sabrina Yin at Food Hotel Asia in Singapore.

Yin insisted that there is “high demand for grain-fed beef” and said that, in some cases, this is much preferred over grass-fed alternatives.

“They understand that from the US, it will be grain fed, so that’s why our beef is being prioritised.

"It’s different because Brazilian beef, a lot of them are still on the grass-fed systems. That, as well as the breed and weather factors, it’s just a different way of raising their animals,” she said.


Asked if US grain-fed beef is sustainable compared with grass-fed beef produced in Ireland, the representative of US beef exporters said: “For sustainability, for sure the US, the US farmer, the meat industry, we have played close attention to this and a lot of farms in the US actually are family owned.”

Promotional material for US beef present at the stand.

She described how, through family farms, farmers have protected the environment in order to pass the land from “generation to generation”.

“With sustainability and environment, I wouldn’t use the word friendly, but to care for the environment, in the US, we are doing our part.”

Yin referenced the efficient use of cattle manure, waste water treatment in slaughter houses and fat rendering to avoid waste as other measures through which US farmers are reducing their climate impact.