Bord Bia on a mis­sion to in­crease our slice of Ja­panese cheese mar­ket

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE - LOUISE HO­GAN

IR­ISH firms are hop­ing to take a slice of the €3bn Ja­panese cheese mar­ket as they seek a so­lu­tion to the post-Brexit ched­dar chal­lenge.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Michael Creed, who is lead­ing a trade mis­sion of 40 Ir­ish firms to Ja­pan and South Korea, said he be­lieved ex­ports to Ja­pan could form part of the so­lu­tion for the Brexit chal­lenge for ched­dar.

He said Ire­land ex­ported €8.9m of ched­dar in 2016 to Ja­pan where im­ports so far this year had grown to €15.1m.

“We be­lieve this is a par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity in Ja­pan and Korea,” said Min­is­ter Creed. “Fifty five pc of the world pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to live in the south-east Asian re­gion by 2050. There are 123 mil­lion peo­ple in Ja­pan and 50-odd mil­lion in Korea so they are sig­nif­i­cant mar­kets in them­selves.”

Cur­rently 1.2 bil­lion litres of Ir­ish farm­ers’ milk is ded­i­cated to the pro­duc­tion of ched­dar for the UK mar­ket alone, with lit­tle ap­petite for that type of cheese in other Euro­pean coun­tries.

Conor Mul­vi­hill from Dairy In­dus­try Ire­land warned it would take a “con­certed long-term ef­fort” and com­mit­ment to the highly de­vel­oped mar­kets such as Ja­pan and South Korea to take ad­van­tage of the deal.

Cur­rently Ire­land lies ninth in the league ta­ble of cheese ex­porters to Ja­pan with 4,110t ex­ported in 2016, which rep­re­sented a 43pc in­crease on 2015.


Mr Mul­vi­hill said it was clear there was po­ten­tial there as Aus­tralia was ex­port­ing 86,000t and New Zealand 61,000t to Ja­pan.

Bord Bia’s Tara McCarthy said there was ex­ten­sive re­search un­der­way to give an in­sight into the mar­ket and the var­i­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ir­ish firms.

“The re­gion is an area where we are putting in sig­nif­i­cant con­cen­tra­tion in terms of sales,” said Min­is­ter Creed. “We see sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket op­por­tu­nity — in­creas­ing num­bers of mid­dle class, dis­pos­able in­come, west­ern­ised di­etary habits. So sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties for us.”

Mr Creed also pointed to the ben­e­fits of the re­cent trade agree­ments be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Ja­pan.

“We see pro­gres­sively in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in Ja­pan over a 15-year pe­riod, there are go­ing to be sub­stan­tial re­duc­tions in tar­iffs on beef ex­ports to Ja­pan and that is im­por­tant for us. Ja­pan is the third big­gest econ­omy in the world and Korea is the 10th big­gest,” he said.

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