Agri-food’s €26bn value to na­tion

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - FOOD & DRINK IRELAND - Michael Creed Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Food and the Ma­rine

The agri-food sec­tor is Ire­land’s largest in­dige­nous in­dus­try, with a turnover of €26 bil­lion. It con­trib­utes 7.6% of GDP, 8.6% of em­ploy­ment and gen­er­ates 10.4% of all mer­chan­dise ex­ports. It is widely dis­persed through­out the coun­try and con­tin­ues to lead eco­nomic re­cov­ery and growth.

The agri-food sec­tor has per­formed strongly in re­cent years with ex­ports reach­ing an es­ti­mated €11.15 bil­lion in 2016 ( Bord Bia fig­ures), con­tin­u­ing the an­nual in­creases seen since 2009. The value of Food and Bev­er­age ex­ports has risen by more than 50% since then. The to­tal value of agri-food ex­ports, in­clud­ing non- edi­ble prod­ucts such as forestry, was es­ti­mated by the CSO at close to €12 bil­lion.

The global food mar­ket of the fu­ture will be marked by in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion growth and pros­per­ity in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Con­sumers in­creas­ingly de­mand as­sur­ances of safety, nu­tri­tional value and sus­tain­abl e pro­duc­tion meth­ods for the food they con­sume; as well as greater choice and convenience in food prod­ucts. The Ir­ish agri- food sec­tor is well placed to meet these de­mands, but will need to re­main fo­cused on sus­tain­abil­ity, com­pet­i­tive­ness and in­no­va­tion in or­der to grow ex­ist­ing and new mar­kets.

Food Wise 2025, the 10-year strat­egy for the agri-food sec­tor, un­der­lines the sec­tor’s unique and spe­cial po­si­tion within the Ir­ish econ­omy. It iden­ti­fies the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges fac­ing the sec­tor and pro­vides an en­abling strat­egy that will al­low the sec­tor to grow and pros­per.

Food Wise in­cludes more than 400 de­tailed rec­om­men­da­tions, spread across the cross-cut­ting themes of sus­tain­abil­ity, in­no­va­tion, hu­man cap­i­tal, mar­ket de­vel­op­ment and com­pet­i­tive­ness; as well as spe­cific sec­toral rec­om­men­da­tions. Food Wise pro­jects am­bi­tious growth in ex­ports (an in­crease of 85% to €19 bil­lion) and em­ploy­ment ( an in­crease of 23,000 in di­rect and in­di­rect jobs) by 2025.

Food Wise im­ple­men­ta­tion is very much a live and con­tin­u­ously up­dated process. I chair the High Level Im­ple­men­ta­tion Com­mit­tee, in­volv­ing se­nior of­fi­cials from rel­e­vant De­part­ments and State agen­cies. We meet quar­terly to re­view progress, as well as en­gag­ing with stake­hold­ers on key top­ics. I think the ex­pe­ri­ence we have had in bring­ing to­gether stake­hold­ers from all sides of the in­dus­try, along with NGOs, aca­demics and of­fi­cials, has given a strength and depth to our strate­gic fo­cus, and this will be par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in re­spond­ing to Brexit.

Mar­ket De­vel­op­ment, one of the themes of Food Wise, iden­ti­fies the need to en­sure that Ir­ish prod­ucts are tar­geted at the right mar­kets and at the right seg­ments within these mar­kets.

In April, I an­nounced a seven point plan for mar­ket ac­cess, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional re­sources on mar­ket ac­cess in my Depart­ment, mar­ket pro­fil­ing re­search by Bord Bia, and an in­ten­si­fied pro­gramme of trade mis­sions to pro­mote Ir­ish food and drink on EU and third coun­try mar­kets. These ini­tia­tives will un­doubt­edly be of di­rect as­sis­tance to Ir­ish food and drink ex­porters this year.

They are en­tirely con­sis­tent with the Food wise 2025 strat­egy, and are all the more rel­e­vant against the back­ground of the de­ci­sion of the UK to exit the Euro­pean Union. We will, of course, keep these ar­range­ments un­der re­view, in con­sul­ta­tion with in­dus­try, to en­sure that re­sources are de­ployed to best ef­fect and that our ef­forts are fo­cussed on mak­ing real progress for busi­ness op­er­a­tors in pri­or­ity mar­kets.

Food Safety and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sus­tain­abil­ity are both cru­cial to main­tain­ing our ex­ist­ing mar­kets and devel­op­ing new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ir­ish food is pro­duced to the high­est in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of qual­ity and food safety. Our food safety and trace­abil­ity sys­tems are recog­nised as among the very best in the world.

En­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity is at the heart of Food Wise, which states that “en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and eco­nomic com­pet­i­tive­ness are equal and com­ple­men­tary: one can­not be achieved at the ex­pense of the other”. Ire­land is al­ready one of the world’s most ef­fi­cient food pro­duc­ers, in terms of car­bon foot­print per unit of out­put. But we are im­ple­ment­ing mea­sures to drive down the car­bon in­ten­sity of our food pro­duc­tion even fur­ther. The am­bi­tion that Ire­land should be a global leader in sus­tain­able food pro­duc­tion, build­ing on our nat­u­ral ad­van­tages, is shared by the Govern­ment, farm­ers and food in­dus­try alike.

Food Wise 2025 high­lights the need for Ire­land to be pro­moted in emerg­ing mar­kets in par­tic­u­lar in re­gions and coun­tries which may not be fa­mil­iar with our pos­i­tive nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, our cul­ture and our peo­ple.

The re­port rec­om­mends that this can be achieved by har­ness­ing the com­ple­men­tar­ity which ex­ists be­tween the Ir­ish Agri-food and Tourism sec­tors, which are also two of our lead­ing ex­port sec­tors.

The pro­mo­tion of Ire­land and the pro­mo­tion of Ir­ish food will lead to ad­di­tional cross­over ben­e­fits for each sec­tor and there is great po­ten­tial to en­hance this com­ple­men­tar­ity in the fu­ture for the mu­tual ben­e­fit of each sec­tor and for the over­all ben­e­fit of the Ir­ish econ­omy.

An al­lo­ca­tion of €500,000 to agri­food tourism schemes in ru­ral ar­eas has been agreed for 2017 for the Ru­ral In­no­va­tion and De­vel­op­ment Fund (RIDF) un­der the CEDRA process. The agri- food el­e­ment of the RIDF is in­tended to fo­cus on longert­erm, wider im­pact­ing pro­pos­als, such as busi­ness and skills train­ing, net­work de­vel­op­ment, ini­ti­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment of in­ter- county agri- food tourism schemes/ trails and es­pe­cially those schemes that are linked to ex­ist­ing or devel­op­ing lo­cal au­thor­ity tourism/agri strate­gies. The fund will be man­aged through Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties (LA) and Lo­cal En­ter­prise Of­fices (LEO).

Fi­nally, I want to as­sure you that the Govern­ment and my Depart­ment have been tak­ing steps to en­sure a sen­si­ble and co­her­ent ap­proach is adopted in deal­ing with Brexit. The Govern­ment has set up a very well-co­or­di­nated process, led by the Taoiseach and his Depart­ment, to en­sure a fully joined- up Govern­ment re­sponse, and my Depart­ment is feed­ing into this over­all process. I have en­gaged in a wide range con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment process, both at home in or­der to fully un­der­stand the is­sues in­volved, and abroad to en­sure that both the EU Mem­ber States and the UK govern­ment are fully aware of the po­ten­tial im­pact a hard Brexit will have on our agri food sec­tor. At a sec­toral level, the Food Wise im­ple­men­ta­tion process al­lows us to take a strate­gic ap­proach to tack­ling the key is­sues that will arise.

Many of you will be fa­mil­iar with the Ir­ish proverb ‘ní neart go cur le chéile’ (there is no strength with­out unity), and I think that is more rel­e­vant than ever in the case of the Ir­ish agri-food sec­tor to­day.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter, Michael Creed, chef Reif Oth­man and Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, launch­ing the UAE chap­ter of the Bord Bia’s Chefs’ Ir­ish Beef Club in Abu Dhabi.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.