Minister of State Martin Heydon has insisted that advancing market access for Irish beef is central to boosting the value of agri-food exports and for the broader development of the beef sector.

The initial details of three agri-food trade missions that the State plans on leading over the coming year were announced by Minister Heydon when speaking to attendees at Bord Bia’s meat marketing seminar on Friday.

Major trade missions are planned for the US in March, China in September and southeast Asia towards the end of the year.

“I firmly believe the advancement and diversification of markets for Irish beef is central to the developing of the sector and to growing the value of Irish agri-food exports,” Minister Heydon said.

“The criticism is often levelled at me when I make this point that it flies in the face of our emissions targets, I would wholly disagree with that sentiment.

“Just because we open new market access does not mean that we fill it all with product and I don’t see it as a failure that we have access to somewhere and we haven’t filled that with Irish product.

“It means that product is going to another market, where it secures a higher return for our farmers, for our food industry and for our companies.”

Bord Bia welcomed last week’s announcement that Irish beef has been once again granted access to the Chinese market, as well as indications from the Department of Agriculture that access to South Korea could be granted before the end of 2024.

However, despite these new markets, agri-food exports to the UK will continue to “remain a really important market for us”, Minister Heydon said, “but one in which we will face much greater competition, as they seek to do more trade deals with third countries”.

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