Bord Bia and Chef Network wanted to come together to create a campaign to highlight Quality Assured Irish pork & to promote increased usage of Irish pork and bacon with industry chefs. The Irish pig meat industry is one of many facing enormous pressures, specifically as a result of unprecedented increased feed and energy costs. Chef Network worked with Maureen Gahan, Bord Bia’s Foodservice specialist & Peter Duggan, their Sector Manager for Pig meat and Poultry. Together we developed an exciting programme that launched this week, with an interactive butcher & chef - pork masterclass.
The line-up included a butchery demonstration from Michael Bermingham who has over 30 years’ experience in the butchery and meat wholesale trade. Irish TV Chef Kwanghi Chan demonstrated a number of pork dishes showcasing the versatility of Quality Assured Irish pork and consultant chef Tom Flavin outlined how including pork dishes on menus can help with balancing costs. See the recipes demonstrated on the day here.
In addition, we were joined by Loretto Kiernan from Carty Meats who discussed what membership of both the Bord Bia Quality Assurance and Origin Green sustainability programmes means for their business.
During the event, we heard about Ireland’s long tradition of producing high quality pigmeat, a tradition that is centred around family farms. These farms are passed from generation to generation, as is the craft and love of rearing pigs. The Irish pigmeat processing sites are strategically located to minimise any long distance transport and support pig comfort. The Irish pigmeat sector is the 3rd largest Irish agricultural sector after dairy and beef. In 2021, Ireland produced around 335,000 tonnes of pigmeat, the domestic market being the main market outlet for Irish pigmeat suppliers.
There is extremely strong support for Irish pigmeat that is produced under Bord Bia Quality Assurance standards. At Retail level, 90% of pork, bacon & cooked ham products carry the Bord Bia Quality Mark – reassurance for the shopper that the product has been produced in accordance with required Quality Assurance standards and secondly that the ‘Origin Ireland’ flag verifies that the food was farmed and slaughtered in the Republic of Ireland. At foodservice level however, imported product is typically favoured, mainly due to the cost competitiveness offering. When the product that ends up on the plate is effectively ‘decanted’ without any logos or labels, the restaurant customer is none the wiser regarding origin or Quality Assurance standards.
Peter Duggan spoke about the Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme (PQAS) that is operated by Bord Bia and how it holds Irish pig producers to exceptionally high standards around items such as animal welfare, traceability and biosecurity. This scheme has played a key role in ensuring Irish pork is the trusted choice among retailers and consumers. The PQAS is regularly updated as new knowledge and information becomes available, meaning that Irish pork production shows due diligence at every link of the supply chain Through PQAS, production facilities are regularly inspected and audited frequently to ensure they are adhering to its rigorous standards. To ensure full supply chain compliance, pigmeat processors are members of the Bord Bia Meat Processor Scheme where they are audited to ensure that they pigs they source from Quality Assured farms are handled correctly. And that the meat they market with their customers meets the Quality Assurance standards around thresholds for any added ingredients such as water or salt.
We were absolutely delighted with the positive response from Chef Network members, with the event selling out quickly. The members in attendance really enjoyed the masterclass, which was the first cookery demonstration at Bord Bia’s new Global Hub in Ballsbridge. They view their new headquarters as a valued and vital investment in Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture industry and it is available as a resource for both food and drink client companies and industry customers alike.
This event forms part of for a wider industry campaign. Based on feedback received from those in attendance on the day, we have plans to produce a series of short tutorial videos that can be shared with all Chef Network members through our website and Social Media channels in the coming weeks.