Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue would not be drawn on how much value the new Irish Grass-Fed Beef protected geographical indication (PGI) might give to Irish beef farmers on Friday.

He said that having a PGI designation means “we can communicate what we are producing and the more we can enhance our brand, the more it adds value".

He would not comment on just how much value it might add or what farmers might expect to receive from it, saying that it is “not something you can quantify at this stage and the objective is to ensure the quality of our fantastic product is clearly communicated to customers everywhere”.

The ministers at the launch of the Irish Grass-Fed Beef PGI. \ Clive Wasson

The PGI was formally launched by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and his recently appointed Northern Ireland counterpart Andrew Muir MLA on the Weir family farm in Ballindrait, Co Donegal, this Friday.

The Minister also highlighted that the merits of having a PGI designation is probably better understood outside our island and that “the challenge for all of us collectively will be working to monetise that and make sure we see it fed through in terms of price”.

Johnny Weir (left) and Derek Weir, Ballindrait, Co Donegal, who hosted the launch of Irish Grass-Fed Beef PGI on their farm.

Andrew Weir, who has succeeded Edwin Poots as the Department of the Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DAERA) minister in Northern Ireland, said the “whole process is an amazing success and not only ensures that farmers north and south get the recognition they deserve, but strong relationships between government bodies north and south, as well as east and west, are developed”.

Route to market

The Irish Farmers Journal asked Bord Bia CEO Jim O’Toole about the next steps for the project now that it is formally launched.

He said that it will be on the shelves in Italy by the end of March, with a retailer that is already a user of Irish beef and has a long history and understanding of what having a PGI adds to a product.

Paula, Beth, Johnny and Curtis Weir, Ballindrait, Lifford, Co Donegal, who hosted the PGI grass-fed beef launch.

He said that Bord Bia is also in discussions with other retailers across Europe and while none of these are firmed up yet, O’Toole expects that other markets for Irish Grass-Fed Beef with the PGI will come on stream, but he didn’t want to speculate on a time frame.

Bord Bia was the engine that drove the PGI application with its counterparts in Northern Ireland, the Livestock and Meat Commission, securing participation for beef from north of the border as well.

Tribute was paid to former minister Poots for his contribution during the application process, which had to be resubmitted to have both jurisdictions included.

The event was hosted on the Weir family farm outside Lifford in Co Donegal. It is a cattle finishing farm operated by brothers Derek and Johnny Weir, along with Johnny's wife Paula, son Curtis and daughter Beth.