Two-year drive to boost local meat sales to Europe

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today announced a new two-year campaign to accelerate red meat sales to Europe.

Invest Northern Ireland has put the structured programme of activities in place to expand sales of beef and lamb to retailers and foodservice customers in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Scandinavia by 2011.

The programme, which gets underway in November, includes the appointment of dedicated marketing advisers in each of the five markets to help pinpoint sales opportunities and convert these into firm business by arranging face-to-face meetings with key buyers and Northern Ireland processors.

Arlene Foster said: “This is an important and far reaching campaign for one of Northern Ireland’s most significant and successful industries.

“The Invest NI campaign builds on the achievements of marketing activities in Europe over the past 18 months. These resulted in over £25 million worth of new business for the local meat industry and found a high level of interest in Northern Ireland products, particularly among such major retailers as Carrefour and foodservice businesses across all of the markets.”

The Minister outlined the new campaign. She said: “Invest NI will work closely with participating local red meat companies to develop sales in each of our target markets - France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Scandinavia. This work will include visits to Northern Ireland by European retail and foodservice buyers and the pro-active promotion of our local beef and lamb in Europe.

“We have already seen success result from this strategic approach in England and Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. There, the Invest NI team has helped companies across a range of food sectors either to win new business or expand existing sales in both retailing and foodservice.”

The Minister also welcomed the contribution being made to the development of the local food industry by the Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), on its first anniversary July 2009.

Arlene Foster said: “Food manufacturing is a key part of the local economy, employing over 19,000 people and achieving annual sales of around £2.8 billion. It is therefore essential that we have a fully integrated approach between the public and private sectors, towards its continued growth and development.

“Through the IAP and its chairman Trevor Lockhart from Fane Valley Cooperative, the food industry can advise my Department and Invest NI on the measures required for its ongoing expansion, particularly through such key issues as growth in export markets and innovation.

“I particularly wish to acknowledge the contribution of IAP members to the interdepartmental project teams. They advise my department in respect of marketing, supply chain, innovation, capability and waste & energy in the food sector. This is a valuable area of work which brings together nearly 40 representatives of the private and public sector