New Strategy Aims to Transform The NI Agri-Food Industry

Ian Pearson, MP, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Barry Gardiner, MP, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, today announced the Government’s response to the Food Strategy Group’s ‘Fit for Market’ report.

This report outlines a strategy to assist the food industry in Northern Ireland to achieve its fullest economic potential. It contains a series of proposals in key areas, such as market understanding and development, innovation, capability development and supply chain management.  

An industry-led Food Strategy Implementation Partnership (FSIP), chaired by Dan Flinter, has been established to oversee implementation of the agreed recommendations contained within the report.

Ian Pearson, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, said:  “The agri-food industry is vitally important to the economy of Northern Ireland, as an indigenous industry, covering the full supply chain from producer to retailer. In particular, it provides the rural economy with major social, environmental and economic benefits and is a key component of the social infrastructure of these areas. But it is also an industry that is facing great change.”

The Minister continued:  “Having considered the Food Strategy Group Report, we in Government agree with its conclusions and also agree that they form the foundations on which a plan for the strategic development of the industry can be built.

“We believe that the report’s recommendations can greatly help us along the road to achieving an integrated, coherent and proactive response to meeting the evolving needs of the industry.

“The Food Strategy Implementation Partnership (FSIP) will be at the heart of efforts to build a stronger and more effective relationship between food producers, food processors and retail sectors.  This relationship will be focused on efficiency, quality and adding value to meet the ever changing needs of customers.”

Commenting on the formation of the FSIP, Barry Gardiner, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said: “I am delighted that Dan Flinter has agreed to continue his involvement and Chair the new FSIP. This appointment will provide continuity of purpose and will ensure that the industry benefits from his extensive experience. It also bodes well for the Northern Ireland food industry that the FSIP has been able to attract a very impressive and broadly based membership, including Clarke Black, David Dobbin, Joanne Denney-Finch, Jimmy Hill, Christine Kennedy, Richard Moore and Clare Passmore.

“I am confident that this strategy and the partnership approach to implementation will significantly contribute to the growth of the Northern Ireland food industry and make it more innovative, market focused and capable.”

Mr Dan Flinter, the newly appointed Chairman of FSIP, welcomed the Government response to the FSG report, commenting: “The members of the FSIP will be a strong voice for the Northern Ireland food industry. We look forward to working closely with the Government’s implementation team to ensure that the agreed FSG action plan is implemented in an effective and timely manner.”