Leading beef and dairy producers on Bord Bia study visit to UK
These included finalists in last year’s Origin Green Sustainable Producer Awards, along with others who hosted buyer visits to their farms to help promote Irish exports.
The main focus of the Bord Bia tour was to learn from progressive producers in Ireland’s largest export market for beef and dairy products. The enterprises visited were relatively intensive and operating on quite a large scale. This is typical of the region, with 57ha the average size of a holding, compared with 32ha in Ireland. A lot of farmland is leased through long-term tenancy agreements.
The itinerary included innovative livestock producers, including Andrew Hall in North Yorkshire, a dedicated calf-rearer in the Buitelaar Rosé Veal supply chain. Nearby in Selby, previous British Farming Awards winner Doug Dear operates a contract-finishing operation alongside a significant tillage enterprise. Beef producers were also highly impressed by the exceptional quality cattle produced by the Renton family. Their 200-cow suckler herd consists mainly of Limousin and British Blue animals.
The Irish dairy farmers also got plenty of food for thought on the tour. Regular visitor to Ireland Tom Rawson shared key insights from his farming and consultancy business, Evolution Farming, which manages more than 2,400 cows across six sites. Equally impressive was Andrew Avison’s 300-strong herd of high-yielding Holsteins. These are milked three times a day and fed a specially-formulated total mixed ration (TMR) to support average production of 10,000 litres per cow per year.
Bord Bia’s UK market office has been keeping Irish beef top-of-mind with British shoppers this summer with a campaign involving popular food bloggers that has so far reached over 5m people.
The campaign, called Summer Beef Encounters, showcases the high standards, quality and versatility of Irish beef produced through the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS). Each of these high-profile influencers developed a summer-inspired recipe using a different cut of Irish beef or cooking technique.
Over the recent four-week period, this competition was promoted on the bloggers’ channels, Irish beef social media channels and through banner adverts on consumer food websites such as BBC Good Food, All Recipes, Jamie Oliver, The Guardian, The Telegraph and Delia Online.
Following the online public vote, the top three engaged in a “cook-off” at Simpsons’ Michelin-star restaurant in Birmingham where each contestant prepared, cooked and presented their creations for judging. After much deliberation, it was decided that Emily Leary’s (A Mummy Too blog) stuffed Portobello mushrooms with Irish beef mince and crumbled feta cheese, should be crowned the winner.
The campaign has already had a reach of over 5m people and a video of the live cook-off is being released this week.
Bord Bia brought a group of Swiss chefs to Ireland earlier this month to demonstrate our systems of production and processing and how the Origin Green and Quality Assurance schemes ensure that the product is sustainably produced to the highest standards. Experiencing for themselves how Irish beef and lamb is produced allows these influential chefs tell the story to their restaurant diners and the food media in Switzerland.
The group undertook a gastronomic tour with Michelin star chef Martijn Kajuiter of Cliff House Hotel which included a visit to Dungarvan brewery, followed by Barrons Bakery where they discovered the Waterford Blaa and then met butcher John McGrath for a cutting demonstration of Irish lamb before closing off the day with forager Andrew Malcolm, searching for mushrooms and wild herbs to be used in cooking Irish beef and lamb.
The Swiss chapter of Bord Bia’s Chefs’ Irish Beef Club (CIBC) plays a vital role in attracting consumers and retailers to the unique qualities of Irish beef and lamb in a market where high disposable incomes allow consumers to pay a premium price for quality and sustainability. Irish beef and lamb exports to Switzerland reached €25m and €7m, respectively, in 2016.
Swiss CIBC members are proud of the role they play as ambassadors for Irish beef and lamb and are extremely active on their social media networks promoting their work and experience with Irish beef.
“If you want to put a tasty, responsible and healthy meat dish on your table, choosing pasture-raised Irish beef is obvious. After that, it’s mainly about the two Ts: time and temperature.”
These were the words of Michelin-starred chef Alain Alders when he demonstrated the art of the barbecue to the Dutch food media recently during his masterclass ‘‘Beef Up The BBQ’’ event at his Michelin-starred restaurant De Vrienden van Jacob, in the stunning country estate of Duin en Kruidberg, just north of Amsterdam.
Culinary journalists, food bloggers and avid amateur beef lovers were invited to participate in the workshop, where Alain gave them hands-on instruction as to how to select, prepare and cook quality Irish steak cuts on the barbecue. The day was a resounding success, resulting in extensive articles in both broadsheet and trade publications as well as social media.
Irish beef is readily available in the Netherlands, being stocked by over 70% of retailers and numerous quality butchers. The Netherlands was Ireland’s third largest export market for beef in 2016, both by volume and value. An updated version of Bord Bia’s popular website irishbeef.nl will go live in early October. This will continue to focus on Ireland’s natural green landscape, dedicated producers and the high-quality beef coming from the Irish suckler herd.
Animal welfare probably receives more attention in the Netherlands than anywhere else in Europe and the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme plays a hugely important role in promoting Irish beef in that market.
Bord Bia’s information marquee is a must-see for all producers at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.
Centrally located opposite the NPA headquarters and close to the Irish Farmers Journal stand, Bord Bia will be highlighting its key programmes in the areas of market promotion, Quality Assurance, Origin Green and consumer insight at the three-day event.
Interactive talks by Bord Bia personnel throughout the day will focus on how the agency is supporting the Irish food sector.
The Bord Bia team, including overseas market managers, will be available throughout the event to speak with producers.
Visitors to the stand will learn about a wide range of Bord Bia activities including participation in overseas trade fairs, inward buyer visits, the Chefs Irish Beef Club, home market advertising of Quality Assured produce, the Origin Green public awareness campaign and Bord Bia’s new insight and innovation department, which plays a key role in understanding consumer behaviours and trends.
Bord Bia will also participate in livestock demonstrations each day in conjunction with the Irish Farmers Journal and ICBF.
The theme of this feature is “cattle conversations”, with a focus on efficient and profitable cattle production, taking market requirements into account.
The Bord Bia Country Kitchen restaurant will feature a variety of Quality Assured Irish meat dishes.