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Meat Technology Ireland: Primary Meat Processing

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Industry Sectoral Challenge 

Irish beef exports are valued at almost €2.8bn, yet we know there is ~ 20% variability in meat quality. Consumer studies have highlighted taste as the primary reason for selecting beef meat over other types of meat. Furthermore, a bad eating experience is known to turn consumers off beef for up to 3 months. With pork and chicken being the major competitor to beef meat consumption, and given the cost of production, it is paramount that beef is consistently of the highest quality.

Teagasc Solution 

In Ireland 9 to 16% of the variation in tenderness, flavour and juiciness of meat is due to genetics. Large variability in genetic merit exists among sires for tenderness meaning that the progeny of some sires will, on average, have more tender meat than progeny from other sires. Following a blind consumer test at BEEF2016, consumers preferred the meat from a higher genetic merit animal compared with lower genetic merit animal 75% of the time. 

Teagasc, with ICBF have developed the world’s largest genetics database and are world leading in breeding for genetic improvement. This allows the industry to breed towards the highest quality meat product, without jeopardising other important traits e.g. feed-conversion.

Engagement Type 

MTI is an Enterprise Ireland/IDA funded Technology Centre hosted by Teagasc. Impact on/for the companies ICBF aims to develop a national breeding index for eating quality, supported by its work undertaken within MTI. Companies will be able to identify and incentivise the production of animals with higher eating quality attributes by virtue of their genetics.


“The output of Meat Technology Ireland will be an important enabler for developing and growing Irish beef and sheepmeat exports, meeting marketplace requirements and building value. The commitment of eight major beef and sheepmeat processing companies in this industry-led collaboration shows the Industry’s commitment to delivering on the growth potential of our sector and its strategic role in regional economic development.”

Philip Carroll, Meat Industry Ireland Chairman