Retailers on the continent have indicated to Bord Bia that they would sell higher volumes of organic Irish beef, should the quantities become available, Bord Bia’s Joe Burke has told an RDS and Teagasc organics webinar.

However, beef processors are currently unable to meet the demand on the continent for organic beef, where Irish suckler beef is seen as the “top of the pops”, Good Herdsmen’s John Purcell said.

“We are so short of organic beef. There is such a demand for organic beef from all our retailers, both in Europe and domestically. We just can’t supply it,” said Purcell.

The European Commission’s head of organics Elena Panichi said that some organic products had better market penetration than others and that meat was one of the food classes with poorer market penetration across the EU.

The highest penetration of organics is in eggs, fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy

“The highest penetration of organics is in eggs, fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy, while there is still low penetration for beverage[s], meat and processed products,” she said.

The higher prices paid for organic produce could compensate farmers for the difference between organic output and that of conventional systems, the Commission official added.

“The yield gap[s] are possibly compensated by higher prices because, in fact, premium prices can go 150% compared to conventional farming,” Panichi claimed.

The CEO of the Irish Organic Association, Gillian Westbrook, was asked if farmers are receiving an adequate premium for organic produce.

“Yes, they are. If they didn’t, they would be phoning our office up and complaining about it but they are not, so we know they must be OK,” Westbrook responded.

The organics chief added that price premia for organic foods are “good at the moment”.