Ireland’s Grass-Fed Standard sets a new benchmark for beef
Over 80% of Ireland’s agriculture land is lush green grass. This has long made it the perfect environment for grazing cattle and explains why Irish beef is so special and unique in terms of taste, tenderness and quality. It’s no wonder that its premium qualities are so sought after by chefs and diners everywhere and, if proof was needed, in a recent consumer survey 87% of UK consumers expressed a desire to purchase Irish beef.
Now with the launch of Ireland’s new independently verified Grass-Fed Standard Irish farmers and processors will be able to supply further evidence of Irish beef’s natural qualities and Ireland’s commitment to open pasture grazing. This is a timely launch as Ernst & Young’s recent research shows that over 50% of consumers globally now express a preference for grass-fed beef and 64% said they would pay more for it.
The new Standard is the perfect blend of nature and science. Fully supported by the Irish government and recognised by the Irish National Accreditation Board, the Standard uses a scientific calculation method to verify that beef is sourced from cattle that enjoy a minimum of 90% grass and grass-based forage. Cattle must also be shown to graze in open pastures for an average of 220 days per year during their lifetime. The model for the Standard is rooted in the ISO accredited Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme whereby data is collected during farm audits to determine the grass-fed status of each animal. It is a strict yet transparent verification process which enables Ireland to prove its credentials and set itself apart from all competitors in the grass-fed sphere.
The new Grass-Fed Standard puts natural open grazing at the heart of Ireland’s beef proposition, but it also shines a light on the other aspects of Irish beef farming which make it so special.
Climate is perhaps the biggest contributor to the lush grasslands. A high annual rainfall average of between 800 and 1200mm together with mild temperatures make Ireland naturally suited for grass-based production systems. This enables Ireland to boast the longest grazing season of all countries in the northern hemisphere and helps Irish farmers adhere to the strict data led requirements of the Grass-Fed Standard.
The Standard is also a reflection of Irish farming skills and experience. Irish farms are traditionally family owned and the farmers are fiercely proud of the quality of their Irish beef. From generation to generation farmers pass on their craft, passion, and care to ensure they leave the land in perfect condition. These careful and meticulous farming practices are reflected in both the Grass-Fed Standard and the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme, ensuring a consistent premium Irish beef quality and the very highest standards in animal welfare, traceability, and environmental care.
Of course, it is the special taste of Irish beef that wins hearts and minds. Amidst the beautiful Irish grasslands sit an abundance of natural herbs and clovers. Grazed by cattle, providing a unique depth of flavour and sweetness to the meat.
No wonder Irish beef has long been admired and sought-after thanks to its tender texture and rich taste, recognised as the most appetising beef on the global market and the choice of many Michelin Star chefs. At the prestigious World Steak Challenge 2019, Ireland won a record 75 medals including for the World’s Best Fillet for a grass-fed Angus crossbred steak. Ireland beat competition from Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, the US, Canada, and other EU Member States, reinforcing the country’s established reputation of producing the best beef in the world.
Ireland's geographical close proximity to the UK also makes it a top choice for both chefs and diners with 2019 research from Red C showing that 66% of British consumers consider Irish beef to be local with a strong sense of familiarity and trust in Ireland’s exceptional beef rearing practices.
Grass-fed beef from Ireland has always set standards. With the new independently verified Grass-Fed Standard it can now shout even louder as the natural choice for chefs and consumers everywhere.