The Ulster Farmers’ Union has met with Invest NI to discuss red meat exports, following meetings previously held with DARD, LMC and NIMEA.
Invest NI provide assistance to companies seeking access to new markets outside of the UK as well as the promotion of Northern Ireland produce on the international stage.
UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson said: “Similarly to previous meetings with other stakeholders, the USA, Philippines and China were highlighted as the high profile markets which Northern Ireland is targeting with Inspectors from the US Department of Agriculture due in Northern Ireland in the next few months.
“In addition, a NI trade mission to the Philippines is planned for March. Longer term, China remains a key target and Invest NI has within the last year opened two new offices in Beijing and Shanghai in an attempt to boost both trade and political links between both countries.
“One of the key concerns highlighted at the meeting was that 90% of Northern Irish beef was going into the UK market compared with 50% twenty years ago and while this is currently the best market available for Northern Ireland red meat, such heavy reliance on a single market would suggest that quicker progress needs to be made in identifying and opening new markets to reduce our vulnerability should the UK market ever experience another downturn like that seen in 2014.
“Undoubtedly one of the key areas of agreement is that Northern Ireland is producing red meat products to a premium standard and the award winning cuts of meat coming from the Province is something that must be promoted along with our clean, green image. In order to assist with this, greater collaboration is required across both Government and Industry to provide a strategic approach on what markets we need to target and what we can deliver for them.”