10 May 2017 --- Irish Food Board, Bord Bia have launched its new trade communications strategy for Irish beef in the Italian market at Tuttofood in Milan, where many of Ireland’s top meat companies are represented in the Origin Green pavilion.
The strategy emerged from research begun by Bord Bia’s Thinking House into Italian consumer behaviour and subsequent work on consumer trends around animal welfare and sustainability. It aims to convince food buyers that in choosing Irish beef they can respond to the demands of their customers who are calling for sustainably produced quality beef from certified production systems that respect the environment and animal welfare.
Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy who attended Tuttofood said: “Italian consumers are increasingly choosing Irish beef even though their overall consumption of red meat is falling. They are eating less beef but opting for premium cuts and enjoying it as a guilty pleasure following a period of economic austerity.”
“Our research tells us that while their first choice is Italian beef they are prepared to shift allegiance if the quality and price is right and 22% are willing to pay more where respect of animal welfare is certified,” she explains.
“We are already responding to their demand for high quality cuts with exports growing by 4% in 2016 to reach €160m. It is now our fourth biggest market and we are targeting it as a diversification destination to offset negative impacts of Brexit.”
McCarthy adds: “Our priority now is to convince more buyers and consumers that they can enjoy the taste of Irish beef in the knowledge that it is produced to the highest standards of quality, safety and sustainability through our Origin Green programme. The theme of the campaign is freedom, focusing on the stress free rearing of our beef cattle on family farms respecting the landscape and the environment. This in turn allows the consumer the freedom to choose Irish beef when shopping or eating out and when sharing a meal at home.”
The campaign will inform more Italian meat buyers about beef production in Ireland and focus on the elements that particularly resonate with their consumers such as the landscape, farming practices, traceability, Origin Green and will also draw on the positive attitude of Italian chefs in the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club to its qualities.
Research showed that Italian consumers who tasted Irish beef considered it to be of premium quality, even if recognition of it was limited. While a reduction in consumption of red meat due to the economic downturn, questions around its health benefits and the impact on the environment were seen as challenges, consumers (22%) were willing to pay more for the assurance that animal welfare was protected and 25% said they would switch to non-Italian beef if it was quality certified.
Italy is Europe’s largest importer of beef with imports of approximately 413,000 tons per annum and has the second highest beef consumption rate in Europe at around 20kg per capita.
Approximately 40% of the beef consumed in Italy is imported. Ireland is the 5th largest exporter of beef to Italy, with the main exporter being France, followed by Poland, the Netherlands and Germany.
It is the fourth largest market for Irish beef with trade valued at €160m in 2016, an increase of 4% on the previous year. Irish beef is available in all major Italian retailers and is on the menus of many Italian Chefs, including those of the eight members of Bord Bia’s Chefs’ Irish Beef Club.
While Ireland is only ranked as the 5th largest supplier to Italy in terms of volume, it is the main supplier of premium beef to Italy. Italy is also a major export market for forequarter cuts like feather-blades, chucks, chuck tenders etc.
Over the period 2009 - 2014 beef consumption rates have decreased by 18.3% in Italy. This is primarily due to the challenging economic environment but can also be attributed to the changes in consumer consumption behavior which favors white meat and the Mediterranean diet.
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