The Dealer wonders if Bord Bia has been doing enough to brief the Department of Agriculture on beef markets lately.

I ask the question in light of comments made by Department secretary general Brendan Gleeson on a webinar this week.

The Department’s supremo told the online Ludgate forum that Government policy was to ensure that “Irish food ended up on the shelves where the most is paid”.

Referring to Irish beef exports, he admitted that Ireland “cannot compete on commodity markets”; adding that “we couldn’t compete if all our beef was going into manufacturing”.

Gleeson then told his online audience that senior Department officials and Bord Bia were “engaging with UK retailers to reinforce our commitment to the UK market”.

These statements are unusual on a number of fronts.

Firstly, only Tesco and Sainsbury’s now stock Irish beef on UK supermarket shelves.

Secondly, Irish beef accounts for just a small percentage of these retailers’ overall offering.

And, thirdly, Irish product is sold at a significantly discounted price by both these multiples when compared to Red Tractor beef.

The reality is that Irish beef is now primarily consigned to the service and manufacturing ends of the UK market. Unfortunately, Irish beef in Britain is a commodity product.

Indeed, to use soccer parlance, we’ve been relegated from the Premiership and are heading for the Vauxhall conference.

It’s just as well that the price of our prime, traceable, quality-assured beef price now lags that of Uruguay, Poland and Australia; otherwise Gleeson would be right and we’d struggle to compete.

As The Dealer’s mother used to say: “Strong prices hide a multitude.”