The head of Bord Bia has confirmed that the state agency recently approved a beef plant in Northern Ireland, run by Dawn Meats, to process cattle raised in the Republic.
Tara McCarthy also said that similar arrangements could follow in the UK depending on how long the beef dispute continues. Once the processors followed Bord Bia’s rules and procedures and submitted to occasional audits they could be approved.
Ms McCarthy told RTÉ radio’sthat the current crisis is "a huge challenge," but that there is a desire among retailers, processors and consumers that people continue to eat Irish beef.
Speaking at the annual conference in Kilkenny of the Agricultural Science Association, she added: "Unusually, and it is in a very unique circumstance at the moment, the product that's now on the market has had that further processing happening in the UK, but it’s still following the exact same rules of processing being inspected by Bord Bia," Ms McCarthy said of the Aldi stock.
Clearly we would love all of the value all of the time to be captured in Ireland but that’s not possible with the current impasse.
Asked if there was a possibility of Irish shops running out of Irish beef, Ms McCarthy said she did not know.
"I don’t know because I’m not aware, we’ve been talking to the retailers and our customers about their current stocks and to date they’re able to manage within the stocks available to them. It’s a chicken and egg, how long will this crisis go on and when will stocks run out.
It’s a finite issue and stocks could run out and it would be an awful shame for consumers not to have the option of buying Quality Assured Irish beef and we hope that never happens.
Ireland has "an international reputation" to maintain for its beef, she said.