Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has emphasised the growing global opportunities for Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.
Speaking at the Sunday Business Post “Future of Food Summit” in Dublin, Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland agri-food industry faces both challenges and opportunities within a growing global market. Rising populations, the demand for protein and rising incomes bring with them the potential of increased food and drink exports sales; while improving economic conditions provide an opportunity to identify new markets, win new business and ultimately contribute to a growth which will benefit our processors and producers.
“Growing production and expanding sales internationally places challenges on business at production level. We must ensure that Northern Ireland businesses are equipped to undertake this growth. We need to look at building a single, sustainable supply chain where the provenance and quality of our food is not compromised. Promoting sustainable production to drive efficiencies on-farm should ultimately result in increased production and outputs, as well as a better return for the farmer whilst protecting the land and environment.
“I know that there is cooperation between my Department through Invest Northern Ireland and organisations in the Republic of Ireland such as Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland. It is vital our Government bodies work together to break down barriers to allow for the free flow of trade across our border. Our food and drink industries both rely on export markets and we should build on our cooperation. We must recognise by working together we can achieve much more, ultimately creating a platform from which we can collectively sell more into our target global markets.
“Northern Ireland companies, supported by Invest Northern Ireland, already exports to more than 60 countries worldwide; from baby food to the Middle East to specialist teas to Japan and Rwanda; from oats to Hong Kong to meat into Michelin star restaurants in Paris. Food and drink exports from Northern Ireland were worth over £1billion in 2014; these were from businesses both large and small, and from across all sectors.”