China to become our first €1bn export market

China will become the first €1bn market for Irish food and drink exports outside of the UK within the next three years, according to Bord Bia CEO Aidan Cotter.

He made the forecast as Bord Bia announced yesterday the opening of a second office in Asia. With its Shanghai hub serving the Chinese market, the new base in Singapore will focus on the South and East Asian countries of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.

“Given that Irish food and drink exports to China have grown tenfold in ten years to reach €654m, we are confident China will be a €1bn market in the next three years,” he said. “China is currently our second-largest market for pork and dairy, while it remains a valuable and increasingly important market destination for Irish seafood.”

The UK is the Irish food and drink industry’s largest trading partner but that may be about to change, not just because of Brexit but also due to the huge efforts being made by Bord Bia and Irish companies to capture a slice of the huge Asian market.

Ireland’s biggest industry has an annual turnover of €25bn, exports of €10bn, supports 230,000 jobs, and is the UK’s biggest supplier of food and drink — but the Chinese are expected to import more of our food than Britain within the next few years.

This week, Bord Bia launched a campaign to promote Irish dairy to China’s online shoppers and influencers. It is the first consumer-facing campaign undertaken by Bord Bia in China. In the initial phase, it is expected to reach 33m people through a series of online ads, promotions, and targeted blogs.

Despite its relatively small population of 5.5m, Singapore is one of the largest importers of Irish food and drink in the region. It also boasts a large manufacturing base and a significant trading influence in the region.

Yesterday, Bord Bia concluded what it considered “its most ambitious trade mission ever”, spanning four countries in eight days with 90 senior representatives from Ireland’s food sector.

In Singapore, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, who led the delegation, said the opening of the office was testament to the Government’s ambition to meet t Food Harvest 2020 and FoodWise 2025 targets to grow food exports.

“From here Bord Bia will have its finger on the pulse of the Asian economy and the office will be the launchpad for Irish food and drink exporters to explore new opportunities in the region. I believe the investment will pay handsome dividends in the coming years,” he said.


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