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.
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