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Meat Industry Overview

The meat industry is an important sector of the agricultural economy of Ireland, representing almost 27% of Gross Agricultural Output. In 2007, of the total Gross Agricultural Output valued at €5.67 billion, cattle and beef account for 26%, pigmeat for 5% and sheep for 3%. Annual turnover of the beef, lamb and pigmeat sector is valued in excess of €3.2 billion. The Irish Meat Industry generates direct employment of over 10,000 people and the same again in direct employment.

Irish beef, renowned worldwide for its quality, is produced to the highest standards of food safety. Beef production is grass-based. Our National herd at the June 2007 census was 6.7 million head. Our modern and innovative processing sector accounts for annual slaughterings of approximately 1.7 million head. Ireland is the largest export of beef in Europe and the fourth largest exporter of beef in the world.

Ireland’s sheep meat sector is an important traditional indigenous industry. Our lamb processor members service fresh meat markets at home and the EU, with 2007 exports valued at €200 million. Annual sheep slaughterings amount to approximately 3 million head. France remains the main export destination for Irish Lamb.

The Irish pigmeat industry at both production and processing level is a modern specialized sector. Our member companies supply the domestic market and a wide range of European and International destinations. Irish pigmeat exports were valued at €368 million in 2007 with the UK market accounting for 50% of total pigmeat exports.

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