Economic Contribution

Ireland’s agri-food sector is a hugely valuable part of the economy, providing 173,000 jobs and accounting for 10% of Irish goods exports.  

The meat sector has a major impact on regional economy spend and rural economic activity with a significant multiplier effect. 

Meat processing in Ireland employs 16,000 people, with as many indirect jobs dependent on the meat sector, as well as contributing to the livelihoods of 100,000 farmer suppliers. The average meat processing facility is responsible for €100m of economy activity in the local area and 320 direct jobs.

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Beef Market Dynamics

Maximising the value of Irish beef underpins the sustainability of the agri-food industry, its workers and the farmers who rely on it. The beef sector remains a cornerstone of Ireland’s export economy and is particularly important to the economic well-being of rural Ireland.

Meat Industry Ireland is working to enhance and grow penetration in a competitive marketplace which reflects the premium price we seek for Irish beef.

The Irish beef price has increased by 25% over the last decade through stakeholder collaboration to secure top customers and open new markets. 

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Ireland’s meat sector provides direct employment to 16,000 people and has a major positive impact on the regional economy and rural economic activity.

The meat sector has a major positive impact on rural economic activity and the provision of jobs and livelihoods in rural areas. There is a multiplier effect whereby every job in a meat processing facility helps contribute to the sustainability of over 2 additional jobs. 80% of meat industry employees are from Ireland or the EU/EEA.

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Market Specifications

Meeting customer requirements and market specifications is critical to winning and retaining the best outlets for Irish beef. Market specifications and in-spec bonuses reward farmers that produce animals that best suit the maximum number of customer requirements.

The Quality Payment System QPS was introduced in 2009, based on research conducted by Teagasc, to underpin Irish beef’s access to the best markets and customers. The QPS delivers bonus payments for better quality animals that meet the requirements of the marketplace and our customers.

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Animal Welfare

Meat Industry Ireland, and its members, are committed to the welfare of animals reared in the Irish food industry. At all stages of the supply chain, MII member companies adhere to the high standards set by Ireland’s animal welfare legislation. The Irish agri-food sector collaborates closely with Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Animal Health Ireland, Teagasc, Bord Bia and other stakeholders to improve animal welfare outcomes across Ireland.

Quality Assurance schemes - such as the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) - require farmers to follow a documented Animal Health Plan to ensure high standards are maintained.

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Health & Nutrition

Irish meat is highly nutritious, an excellent source of protein and contains many essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to good health. Meat plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

Knowledge and education are vital to ensure consumers have access to balanced information and are fully informed by appropriate health and nutrition advice. Misinformation and misunderstanding can lead to nutrient deficiency.

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Trade, Exports & Market Access

The Irish meat industry is export oriented with annual exports of beef, pigmeat, sheepmeat and poultry exceeding 1 million tonnes, valued at €4 billion and exported to 75 countries globally. With increasing global population, 70% more food is needed, with less availability of land and water resources while also decreasing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. 

With its strong sustainability credentials, Ireland is well placed to meet this global challenge, with its grass based beef and lamb production systems and highly efficient pig and poultry sectors. Coupled with its success to date in diversifying into new trade markets internationally with growing protein demands, the Irish meat industry will need a sustained effort in improving access to existing markets and the opening of new markets for quality sustainably produced Irish meat. 

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Sustainability is at the core of our sector with the Irish pasture based production system for beef showing it to be more environmentally sustainable than many global competitors. Ireland’s beef is amongst the top five most carbon efficient in Europe. Committed to reducing its carbon footprint, Irish beef processors are European leaders in terms of their work to reduce the environmental footprint of their industry along with the adoption of the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to meet the Paris Agreement commitment to limit global warming.

Through participation in Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme, Meat Industry Ireland members are actively involved in a range of measurable sustainability targets including reduced energy, water, and waste initiatives across the areas of raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability.

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