Foster announces new export support for red meat companies

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is at Anuga 2011 and James Paice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food; and Richard Lochead, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today announced new support to help local red meat companies to increase exports.

The Minister outlined two new export initiatives during a visit to the world’s biggest food event this year, Anuga 2011, in Cologne. Arlene Foster was at the event to support almost 30 local food and drink companies which were taking part in the exhibition.

EBLEX, the main beef and lamb marketing operation in Britain, has been appointed to help export local red meat products to France and Belgium and to represent the interests of Northern Ireland in these markets. In addition, an agreement to share exhibition stand resources and knowledge in respect of key export markets has been signed with Quality Meat Scotland.

Arlene Foster said: “The two measures are designed to encourage and assist the red meat industry, which already contributes around £1billion annually to the Northern Ireland economy, to increase sales in key European markets including France and Belgium.

“These strategically important agreements build on work already undertaken by Invest NI in hosting visits by major European meat retailers and wholesalers to Northern Ireland, as well as organising delegations from local companies to these crucially important markets.

“The industry has an impressive track record in developing sales with top retailers in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Local companies have also gained a foothold in European markets such as France, Italy, Spain and Denmark. I believe there is substantial scope to expand sales in these and other European markets and I want to ensure there is effective support in place.

“EBLEX has vast experience and has enjoyed great success in marketing British beef and lamb abroad. Our agreement with EBLEX will enable local companies to benefit from its marketing expertise, as well as an extensive network of contacts among European retailers and wholesalers. They will also be able to save money in overseas markets by sharing joint resources with Quality Meat Scotland.

“My department and Invest NI are committed to supporting the industry’s continued growth in terms of overall sales, exports, innovation and employment, by assisting with key activities such as new product development, state-of-the-art processes and international marketing.”

More than 150,000 trade visitors from 180 countries, many responsible for purchasing products and services, are expected to attend the five-day Anuga event.

Arlene Foster said: “I am encouraged by the presence of so many Northern Ireland food and drink companies at this year’s Anuga exhibition, which is the most important event his year for the global industry. Clearly, the local companies taking part recognise that growth can best be achieved by targeting opportunities in markets throughout Europe and further afield.”