By James Garner

MORE Irish beef is finding its way on to British consumers plates as imports soar on the back of Britains foot-and-mouth supply problems and lower production.

This year, UK meat-eaters are likely to consume an extra 80,000t of foreign beef, the majority originating from across the Irish Sea.

“The absence from the [UK] market of South American suppliers and more recently Zimbabwe means Ireland could exceed normal market share, with exports potentially reaching 170,000-180,000t,” said Michael Duffy, head of Bord Bia.

Price also favours the Irish product. It is currently trading at 136p/kg – a 30p/kg discount for the same quality animal produced in Great Britain.

Robert Forster, head of the National Beef Association, sees this as a real problem, but refused to blame the retailers for selling Irish beef.

“They have to stock their shelves and we want consumers to be able to buy beef when they want to.

“To reclaim market share we need to produce as many cattle as we can to keep imports down.”