Farmers and other primary producers have passed the halfway mark towards meeting their Food Harvest 2020 targets.
“We have already achieved a 19% increase in the value of primary production against the 33% projected target for 2020, while exports have already reached 10% of the planned 42% growth by 2020,” said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney when he recently launched the Milestones for Success 2012 progress report.
The 33% increase in the value of primary agriculture, from €4,496m to €6,125m is linked to an export target of €12bn (compared to €8,298m in 2007-2009).
Mr Coveney said the food industry has also delivered extra jobs.
CSO estimates for food and beverage manufacturing increased from 43,900 to 50,300 in the past two years — more than reversing job losses in the previous decade.
Some job areas may not be fully represented in CSO figures, said Mr Coveney.
The official estimate for fishing and aquaculture is 1,700 jobs, but primary data from client surveys and fishing registers maintained by BIM show that over 6,500 full- and part-time persons are directly employed.
Mr Coveney welcomed a number of recent food industry developments, including:
* Animal Health Ireland’s voluntary BVD programme involving over 20% of calves born in 2012.
* The Irish Dairy Board and Teagasc’s new Dairy Innovation Centre, which has developed two new cheeses for commercial scale-up by IDB members.
* A multinational food company has agreed to establish its global Centre for Digestive Health in Moorepark in collaboration with Teagasc and UCC.
* Improved scale in seafood firms, with one achieving annual turnover of over €50m, and 15 exceeding €20m each.
Three Irish beef suppliers were co-operating to supply premium product to a leading European retailer, in one of 20 projects, involving 115 businesses, based on the co-opetition concept (Irish businesses which compete in some areas, but co-operate in others to secure new markets, larger contracts or to reduce costs).
Mr Coveney said, “The agri-food sector must play a major role in leading Ireland’s economic recovery. This represents a unique opportunity for the sector. We must embrace the challenge and succeed”.
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