Irish beef is back on the menu in the US for the first time since a ban was introduced over fears of BSE 16 years ago.
After a two-year campaign by government officials and agriculture chiefs, Ireland has become the first state in the European Union to achieve the lucrative status for grass-fed cattle – “green beef” as it is known.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney said the US is a much more exciting market than it was 16 years ago and is now the highest value in the world for beef farmers.
Sales into the American market from Ireland are estimated to run from 50 million-100 million euro (£39.1 million– £78.3 million) this year, with the potential for more, he said.
“This US market is a huge prize given the size of the market and the demand we know exists there for premium grass-fed beef,” Mr Coveney said.
“We now have first-mover advantage as a result of being the first EU member state to gain entry. There is also the large Irish-American community, which will be a key target of our promotional efforts for Irish beef now.”
As part of the drive to promote Irish beef, a dedicated website aimed at American consumers and buyers, highlighting the quality of the meat, is to be set up in coming weeks.
The agreement to reopen the market was reached following two years of talks with US officials and a successful inspection of Ireland’s beef production systems last July.
Beef from the EU has been banned in the US for more than 15 years.