Written Answers. - Sheepmeat Sector.

Johnny Brady

Question:

56 Mr. J. Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the efforts, if any, being made by him to encourage lamb processing firms to enhance their product range and to improve marketing in order to enhance lamb prices and to meet the competition from other EU suppliers and New Zealand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4693/00]

The development of new products is primarily a matter for the industry itself. However, Bord Bia, which has responsibility for the promotion and marketing of sheepmeat, is planning to hold a number of workshops with processors, retailers and food service operators to develop more consumer-friendly lamb cuts. A new approach to the presentation of lamb cuts should enhance marketing opportunities as less time is now spent by consumers on the prep aration of food, and this is particularly so in the case of young consumers.

Bord Bia is continuing to seek new markets for lamb and is involved in a generic lamb promotion campaign in France in conjunction with Interbev. It is also looking at markets in Scandinavia and a good market for Irish lamb is expected in the Mediterranean region in 2000. On the domestic front, it will conduct an Easter promotion campaign, followed in the summer by a barbecued lamb promotion.

In addition, the national development plan will provide financial support for capital investment in the food sector. Part of this support will focus on added value products and, in particular, on the high value prepared consumer foods. This support is designed to encourage the processing industry to develop value added products and improve its competitiveness on the EU market.

Many of the recommendations of the national sheep forum relate to the need to improve the efficiency of our production and the quality of our final product. These are essential features of any drive to withstand competition from other supplying countries and should be addressed on an ongoing basis by all involved with the sector.