NI support for country of origin labelling

The Livestock & Meat Commission (LMC) has called for country-of-origin labelling after a survey revealed that consumers in Northern Ireland are increasingly concerned about the origin of their meat.

The Livestock & Meat Commission (LMC) has joined calls for country-of-origin labelling after a survey revealed that consumers in Northern Ireland are increasingly concerned about the origin of their meat.

The survey revealed that, when dining out, over 60% of Northern Ireland consumers would want to know the origin of the beef they are eating. When asked to rate certain attributes of beef from various countries, Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured (NIFQA) sirloin was a clear favourite among consumers, with regard to perceived tenderness (46%), freshness (51%), and quality (46%).

LMC says that compulsory country-of-origin labelling (Cool) would require foodservice outlets to display the origin of their meat and therefore give customers the freedom to choose locally produced meat.

Naomi Waite, marketing director at LMC, said: "Northern Ireland beef has a very high quality image in local consumers' minds, and is the preferred choice for the majority of consumers. What the survey has highlighted is that stating Northern Ireland as the country of origin increases the consumers' quality perceptions - which can only be good for the Northern Ireland foodservice sector."

Many advocates of Cool believe it is a necessary step towards broader consumer education and buying choices. Momentum for Cool has grown following a number of concerns over the safety and quality of imports.

While no mandatory labelling scheme exists in Northern Ireland, the government supports a voluntary labelling scheme and, already, Botanic Inns has announced that it is to declare the source of all its steaks and roast beef on its menus as Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured, a move welcomed by the LMC.

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