Bord Bia has said that the lifting by US authorities of a ban on EU sheepmeat is an important step forward in the process of achieving market access for Irish sheepmeat exports to the US market.
According to Bord Bia, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) decision will pave the way for full market access for Irish sheepmeat to the US.
Sheepmeat exports from the EU to the US were banned due to the presence of scrapie in certain EU member states.
Welcoming the announcement, Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy said: “Bord Bia is delighted with the prospect of promoting sheepmeat to the US in the coming months.
"Our focus will be on raising the profile of Irish grass-fed sheepmeat through awareness of it as a premium, natural product sourced from quality assured farms, and fully traceability from farm to fork.”
McCarthy said that sheepmeat consumption in the US is forecast to stand at 185,000t this year.
"Imports in 2020 stood at 133,000t (€886m) and account for two-thirds of total sheepmeat consumption.
"Growing lamb consumption levels, albeit from a small base, have resulted in an increasing demand for lamb. However, this is not expected to stimulate an upturn in domestic production," she said.
The two largest suppliers of imported sheepmeat to the US - New Zealand and Australia - represent 99% of all imports in volume terms (New Zealand 76%; Australia 23%. Source: Global trade atlas data for 2020).
Bord Bia US manager Henry Horkan said: “Through engaging with key importers and customers over the coming months, we will pave the way for the launch of lamb in the US.
"This is vital at a time when diversification into international markets has never been more important to optimise the value returned to Irish producers.”
Next spring, the Department of Agriculture will lead a trade mission with Bord Bia to the US, which will include a series of lamb-focused meetings with key importers.