Northern Irish beef goes on sale in the Philippines

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Northern Ireland’s red meat sector has received a welcome boost with confirmation that beef from the province is now on sale in the Philippines.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) announced yesterday that the first consignment of Northern Irish beef has reached consumers in the Philippines a year after it was revealed beef exports would be accepted.

The Filipino authorities announced in August 2017 that beef exports from the UK to the Philippines could recommence, alongside existing exports of pork, chicken and lamb.

The first consignment of beef from NI has now cleared customs in the Philippines and has the potential to become a major trade opportunity for the local beef industry.

Welcoming the progress, DAERA’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Perpetua McNamee said: “We have been working in partnership with Defra and industry to identify new markets and opportunities for our local meat sector.

“This process began in 2015 and it is welcoming to note that the Filipino people will now have the opportunity to sample the fine quality beef produced by our farmers.”

Dr McNamee also welcomed the announcement that the pork industry in Northern Ireland will now have access to the Taiwanese market after authorities agreed to accept pork imports from the UK for the first time.

She added: “This market is of particular significance to the pork industry because it will provide opportunities for pork processors to export much of the less marketed ‘fifth quarter’ products which have a limited outlet more locally.

“Gaining access to the Philippines and Taiwanese markets is further recognition of the rigorous standards we have in place to produce our high-quality, safe and wholesome meat.

“We in DAERA will continue to invest much time and energy into opening new markets across the globe to expand the agri-food industry in NI.”

Defra forecasts that additional trade to these new markets may be worth £34million and £50million to the UK beef and pork industries respectively over the next five years.

The news has been welcomed by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, with UFU beef and lamb chairman, Sam Chesney, saying: “Northern Ireland’s beef sector is globally recognised for the high quality, safe, and delicious beef we produce.

“The announcement highlights there are international markets keen to import our product and we must capitalise on these opportunities.

“New markets for beef must be a key objective for the government post-Brexit, however, any disruption to trade with the EU and globally as a result of a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario will have a serious impact on our industry.”