Bord Bia beefs up with Tokyo office

A push to promote Irish food produce to the Asia Pacific market amid Brexit uncertainty has seen Bord Bia open up an international office in Tokyo.

The move to capitalise on the potential to promote Irish pork, beef, seafood, dairy and whiskey comes in the wake of the Japan EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA), which has been in place since February 2018 and removes the vast majority of €1bn import duties paid by foreign companies exporting to Japan to create the largest free trade market in the world.

Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy said there is a “serious commitment” to promoting Irish produce to the Japanese consumer who is increasingly looking for more sustainable, healthy produce with a particular emphasis on high protein beef from grass based cows.

“This investment should pay handsome dividends in the coming years as Bord Bia builds new contacts, gathers market and consumer insight and assists companies to find new customers and to explore new opportunities in the region,” she said.

Japan is currently Ireland’s fourth largest market for both pork and cheddar, while it remains an increasingly important market destination for Irish beef and seafood and is a future priority market for Irish whiskey and other spirits.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said Bord Bia having a presence in Japan is “the logical next step” in boosting Irish exports to Asia.

He said the Tokyo office - which will be co-located in the Irish embassy - is a “significant step” in increasing Ireland’s food exports by 85% to €19bn by 2025 - targets already set out by the Government.

Enterprise Ireland is also pushing the agribusiness export agenda in the Asia-Pacific region.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys is accompanying 11 of the agency’s agribusiness-focused client companies on a trade mission to New Zealand.

The trip is part of the Government’s efforts to grow Irish exports to markets outside of the UK to 50% by 2020.

It aims to attract investment from New Zealand companies and open up the Asia-Pacific market for Irish agri firms.

“Market diversification has never been more important than it is now with Brexit on the horizon. Ireland and New Zealand have a long and very positive trade history, particularly in the agribusiness sector, and the Government is determined to build on that,” Ms Humphreys said.

“Expanding the Irish export footprint is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland,” said the agency’s chief executive Julie Sinnamon.

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