Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster launched a new quality beef brand from Northern Ireland during her visit to the Netherlands.
The Minister took part in the launch of the ‘Shannon Matured Beef’ brand by C&J Meats of Kilmore, Co Armagh and its Dutch partner, Shannon Meats, in Zoetermeer. Beef sold under this label has been traditionally matured on the bone for a minimum of 11 days to provide a rich flavour.
The Minister said: “The launch of the new brand is an important strategic initiative by C&J Meats, an ambitious and progressive Northern Ireland company that is committed to significant growth in Europe and further afield.
“This a relatively young company which has recognised that growth, especially in current economic conditions, can best be achieved by investing time and other resources in developing business outside Northern Ireland. It is also taking advantage of market building opportunities from the current favourable exchange rate of sterling.
“As a result of this focus on exports, C&J Meats currently sells more than 90% of this turnover to markets including the Netherlands, Denmark Italy, France, Germany and, most recently, Malta.
“This is an impressive track record of achievement. The company, which has received a range of financial and other support from Invest Northern Ireland, is maximising the market potential of its beef in the Netherlands by means of the strategic alliance with an established and successful business there, Shannon Meats, and by applying branding techniques to differentiate its products as being of premium quality.
“This approach is in line with my department’s focus on encouraging Northern Ireland companies, especially those in food and drink processing to ensure better margins through the development of premium quality brands.”
Colm Pyers, C&J Meats’ Joint Managing Director, said: “The Netherlands is now one of our most important markets. It is a very discerning marketplace where consumers expect quality products and now regard Northern Ireland beef as amongst the best and most richly flavoured in Europe.
“Our success there is based on the consistently high quality beef that we supply coupled with a high quality service. To ensure that quality is maintained, we have formed strategic alliances with a selected number of abattoirs and hand pick carcases on a daily basis.”
Shannon Meats’ customers include supermarkets, cash and carry outlets, butchers and further processors.
C&J Meats was established in 2001 by John McCann and Mr Pyers, the joint managing directors. It now operates an EU approved red meat processing facility at Kilmore, which has the capacity to produce 240 tonnes of product per week.
Shannon Meats was formed by some of the former management of Galtee (Holland) and started trading on 1 March 2008. C&J Meats also supplied Galtee (Holland). The company employs 13 people and makes deliveries six days per week.