Ten-year agri-food strategy praised

Industry leaders have praised the cross-category strategy in Food Wise 2025, the agri-food sector’s 10-year plan to expand its exports by 85% to €19bn and create 23,000 jobs.

Launched in RDS Dublin by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, the plan projects a 70% rise to €13bn in value added, achieved from a 65% rise in primary production to €10bn. While post-quota dairy growth has been long signposted, the breadth of the plan is indicated by its 35 signatories, a committee of groups as diverse as Kerry, Glanbia, Coillte, Tesco, Birdwatch and several farmers. The plan is to continue the huge growth of Irish agri-food exports, up 45% in 2009 to 2014, versus 4% for overall merchandise exports.

“The dairy sector will rise to the challenge in delivering a doubling in export value,” said Cormac Healy, director of the Irish Dairy Industries Association. Irish dairy needs an accelerated pipeline of value-added product and ingredient development, and investment in research, innovation and advanced processing technology,” he said.

Ross MacMathuna of suppliers group Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland pledged the drinks industry’s support for the plan. With the Irish whiskey sector set to invest €1.1bn by 2025, and its exports of €300m up 220% since 2003, he said his industry will be a firm ally with agri-food producers in realising growth goals.

“Whiskey exports are set to double by 2020 and double again by 2030,” he said.

“The sector exports to 77 markets and is to grow global market share by 300% by 2030, from 4% to 12%. Employment is also set to grow by 30% by 2025, from 5,000 to 6,500. And the brewing sector continues to support over 3,000 farming families,” he said.

“The brewing sector will also have a huge role to play, with beer production remaining the most important sector within the drinks industry in terms of indigenous manufacturing,” he said.

Martin Keane, president of co-op umbrella group ICOS, said the expanding dairy industry needs to build on Ireland’s global reputation as a producer of high quality, safe and carbon-efficient food.

“With our natural, grass-based production system, Ireland is the most efficient producer of dairy and beef products based on carbon intensity,” said Mr Keane.

“As a nation we produce enough food to feed over 35 million people through exports, which makes a much wider and valuable contribution to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by supplying worldwide the most carbon efficient food products in the world,” he said.

Mr Coveney said there is growing demand for high- quality, safe and nutritious food in markets such as Asia and Africa.

“Food Wise 2025 sets out a vision for the industry to continue along a path of sustainable growth and recognises the strategic importance of specific market and consumer insights if emerging global opportunities are to be fully realised in the decade ahead,” he said.


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