IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey recently visited Sweden and Denmark to review the growth potential of Nordic market for Irish lamb exports with Bord Bia.
John Lynskey said, “The Nordic market is now the third most important export market for Irish sheep meat after France and Britain, accounting for €24m worth of sheep meat exports in 2013, an increase of 20% on 2012. Sweden accounts for 75% of this market and Denmark 20%. The growth potential is substantial with the volume of Irish sheep meat to Sweden growing by 58% from 2011 to 2013”.
The objective of the study visit was to obtain an overview of the Danish and Swedish markets; to gain an insight into the positioning of Irish sheep meat in supermarkets; and to get the views of the meat distributors who import Irish lamb.
John Lynskey said having visited the major retailers stores in both Sweden and Denmark, it is obvious Irish lamb is highly regarded when shelf placing and space allocation in comparison to lamb from other countries and price is assessed. “Irish lamb is not used by the supermarkets in these countries as a low value/price product. Irish lamb is being sold at the higher end of the price spectrum and treated as a high quality product. This is a clear indication that the Nordic market for Irish lamb is very important in terms of a high value export destination for sheep meat.”
The IFA Chairman said Bord Bia, together with Irish processors, have played an important role in ensuring Irish lamb enjoys this standing in the market place in Sweden and Denmark. He said the workshops being organised for supermarket butchers and the promotional activities with the top chefs in the regions are significant contributors to this success.
In meetings with the meat importers and distributors in the region, John Lynskey said they made it clear that consumption of sheep meat is increasing and demand for Irish lamb continues to grow, with their biggest concern being guaranteed consistent supplies from Ireland.
The IFA Chairman said the low levels of sheep production in both Sweden and Denmark means the Nordic market is heavily dependent on imports to meet the growing demand for sheep meat. Sheep slaughtering’s in Sweden are in the region of 260,000head per year with production in Denmark at approx. 1,700t. Irish lamb is well placed to avail of this increased demand in what is a lucrative high value export outlet.
Following the visit, John Lynskey said it is important that Bord Bia, in conjunction with Irish sheep processors, continue to develop this lucrative market and build on the standing already achieved by Irish sheep meat in the region to further increase the volume and price of Irish lamb exports.