Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has announced that a new industry-led agri-food marketing body for Northern Ireland is to be established.
Arlene Foster said: “The food and drink sector is hugely important to the Northern Ireland economy. It has a proven track record for growth, with turnover increasing by 6.7% last year to £4.5billion. The sector accounts for around a quarter of manufacturing industry sales and external sales. In terms of employment, agri-food supports almost 100,000 jobs when we include farming, fishing, retail and distribution.
“If we are to continue to grow the sector we must ensure that our excellent agri-food offering is marketed to best effect, both at home and in markets outside Northern Ireland. This was one of the key issues identified by the Agri-Food Strategy Board (AFSB) in Going for Growth, the Board’s strategic plan for the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland.
“The establishment of a new industry-led agri-food marketing body, which would be similar to the already successful Scotland Food and Drink, will provide a significant and exciting opportunity for the Northern Ireland agri-food industry to work together for the benefit of the entire sector. This body will play a pivotal role in providing strategic leadership and direction for the marketing activities of both Government and private sector organisations.”
The Minister added: “The establishment of the new agri-food marketing body will play an important part in further promoting and growing the sector.
“I am pleased to announce that the AFSB has undertaken to develop the proposal for a new industry-led body. It will be essential that they secure the buy-in of all stakeholders, both Government and industry, and I would encourage everyone involved in the wider agri-food sector to support the Board as it begins this important work.”