All le­gal ob­sta­cles have been ad­dressed

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FEATURE -

f o r wa r d . W h e n y o u a r e trav­el­ling be­yond Eu­rope and the English-speak­ing world, you have to ac­cept that, in many cases, you are in­tro­duc­ing Ire­land as a coun­try, as much as high­light­ing its po­ten­tial as a source of sus­tain­able, high-qual­ity food. “The pres­ence of a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter lends the nec­es­sary grav­i­tas that will at­tract prospec­tive buy­ers to at­tend events and en­gage with Ir­ish com­pa­nies, as well as se­cure valu­able me­dia cov­er­age.”

Bord Bia’s Ori­gin Green mes­sag­ing is also hugely im­por­tant, she says. “Sus­tain­abil­ity is top of the agenda across the global food in­dus­try right now. The fact that we can tell buy­ers that the world’s first na­tion­ally­based food in­dus­try sus­tain­abil­ity pro­gramme un­der­pins our of­fer­ing is a ma­jor plus.’ While open­ing up new mar­kets is never easy, Ir­ish sup­pli­ers are al­ready achiev­ing re­sults that would have been un­think­able just a decade ago. There may be no bet­ter ex­am­ple than the Mid­dle East, where Ir­ish food and drink ex­ports reached €385m in 2016, and are on tar­get to hit €500m by 2020. While lead­ing one of her first trade mis­sions as CEO of Bord Bia in 2016, McCarthy saw first-hand how tan­gi­ble the op­por­tu­nity has be­come. “We vis­ited su­per­mar­ket chains in the UAE [United Arab Emi­rates] which stock more Ir­ish food brands on their shelves than you are likely to see any­where in the world, out­side the UK and Ire­land. That gives you a sense of what’s hap­pen­ing right now and what is pos­si­ble for the fu­ture. This couldn’t hap­pen with­out face-to-face re­la­tion­ship build­ing, and trade mis­sions are go­ing to be ab­so­lutely cen­tral to that in the years ahead.”

THE GULF IN FE­BRU­ARY, JA­PAN AND SOUTH KOREA IN NOVEM­BER: on the John Stone beef stand at Gul­food 2017 in Dubai, the world’s largest an­nual food and bev­er­age ex­hi­bi­tion, from left, Ir­ish Am­bas­sador to the UAE, Pa­trick Hen­nessy; Gillian O’Neill of Fine Foods Eire; Al­lan Mor­ris, John Stone Beef; Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy; and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Michael Creed. It was Ire­land’s largest ever pres­ence at Gul­food, co-or­di­nated by Bord Bia, and the food board is off again this week­end, to Ja­pan and South Korea, again led by Min­is­ter Creed, to boost Ir­ish food and drink ex­ports to these im­por­tant mar­kets.

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