Foster sees key role for dairying in economic growth

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster says the projected growth of the global population to nine billion by 2050 offers substantial business opportunities for local dairy companies.

The Minister was addressing a delegation from the Global Dairy Platform at Parliament Buildings, Belfast. The three day event, being held in Northern Ireland for the first time, is one of the most important and influential events in global dairy processing.

Arlene Foster said: “Dairy processing was the second largest contributor to gross turnover in food and drinks processing in Northern Ireland in 2011, with sales of £988million. This makes it one of the most significant contributors to our economic wellbeing and Invest Northern Ireland is working closely with local companies to assist with export development.

“A significant amount of local output is sold externally, mainly in the form of milk powders, cheese and butter. It is also an industry with a strong commitment to innovation particularly in terms of added-value products.

“Dairying here is very well positioned to exploit rising global demand for dairy products. The world population is projected to reach nine billion by 2050, and there is increasing affluence and westernisation of diets in developing countries, especially China.

“The need for the industry to accelerate the move towards higher value added products was pinpointed in the Agri-Food Strategy Board report. We are currently assessing how we can help the sector implement the report’s far-reaching recommendations.”