Ireland’s fastest growing meat bralidllogo1nd since its launch has been theDELUXE” Irish Hereford Range at German supermarket group Lidl. Such has been the demand for the product aged for 14 days on the bone and a further 14 days for extra maturity giving a total of 28 days that it has caught the attention of Lidl Europe. Given the extraordinary growth in demand for this addition to the “Deluxe” range which has exceeded even the most optimistic estimates for a new product launch, supply has been a consistent challenge.

The market has sufficient capacity to absorb even greater numbers of cattle each week with the possibility if supply can be upped the brand can further develop outside Ireland. Irish Hereford beef clearly marked as such now has a shelf presence in 172 Lidl stores across Ireland a visibility that could only be dreamed of a short number of years ago. Lidl have also made determined efforts to aggressively market the product as they know from their own stringent taste testing and customer feedback that this is a product of outstanding quality. Slaney Foods and sister company the Linden Group in Northern Ireland must be commended on their production, packaging and distribution of the product and their dedication to excellence right along the food chain. In their efforts to raise standards further and raise awareness of quality beef Slaney Foods recently held the €6,000 Slaney Foods Quality Steak Competition which attracted an entry of about 1,000 steers and heifers that met the specifications for their brands.

Journalist John Shirley takes up the story “All 1,000 carcases were given the meticulous standard Slaney treatment to enhance eating quality with three carcases from each category selected for the steak tasting test. In the delightful company of Mary Lacey, captain of the three-in-a-row Wexford All-Ireland camogie team, and Bill Kelly, owner and manager of Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare, I sampled rib-eye steaks from the nine selected carcases. The carcases were identified by a number. The owners/breeders were not identified until after the tasting. The steaks were assessed and ranked for tenderness, flavour and overall eating experience. The top Hereford steak came from a 26-month-old steer, grading O+4-, which had a carcase weight of 322.4kg. The supplier was dairy farmer Noel Maher, from Ballinleenty, Co Tipperary. Interestingly, beef eating quality is not linked to carcase shape. The Lidl Deluxe Irish Hereford Range, supplied from Slaney, has done really well and is largely based on Herefords from the dairy herd. Slaney Foods’ Slaney Valley brand, which is aimed at the catering and restaurant sector across Europe, is also growing nicely, according to Mr Fanning. He said it is vital that they always deliver consistent product to customers.”

The Secretary of the Irish Hereford Society Larry Feeney speaking at the event congratulated Noel Maher winner of the Supreme Hereford award and also Hereford winners Gillian & David Hendy, Riverstown, Kildangan, Monasterevin and James Kelliher, Ballybrood, Caherline, Limerick on behalf of the Society. The achievement of these farmers was he stated typical of the top class standard of excellence aimed at and reached by producers involved in the Slaney/Lidl/Hereford project.   Cattle wanted weekly Phone Eamon @ 087/6779567 or John @ 087/2695119

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