Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (232)

Tom Fleming

Question:

232. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress that has been made in the export of beef, lamb, pig meat and dairy products since the Government came into office; the number of new jobs that have been created during this period; the targets that have been set for the next two years; the new markets that have been identified; the number of new jobs he hopes to create in this area during the next 24 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35631/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Food Harvest 2020 sets a target of €12 billion in total food and drink exports by 2020. The value of exports is of course a function of supply and demand and other factors, but despite difficult economic conditions in the market place, Irish agrifood exports are continuing to perform strongly. The interim export target for 2015 is €10 billion and the fact that the value of agrifood and drink exports exceeded €9 billion for the first time ever in 2012 marks good progress so far.

Since March 2011 when I took office as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine there has been significant progress in meeting the targets in each sector. The details of the exports achieved since 2011 are set out in the following table:

Irish Meat and Dairy exports 2010-2012

Value: €m

-

-

Category

2011

2012

Dairy

2,715

2,620

Beef

1,860

1,900

Pigmeat

421

507

Sheepmeat

197

212

Grand Total

5,194

5,239

Source: CSO

In 2012, the value of Irish beef exports showed an increase of €40 million over the 2011 figure, reflecting improved returns from export markets. Over the same period the value of sheepmeat exports increased by approximately €15 million, with modest growth recorded in exports to our main markets in France and the United Kingdom and higher growth was recorded on exports to emerging markets in Northern Europe (including Scandinavia).

Exports of Irish pigmeat are estimated to have increased by 12,000 tonnes (carcass weight equivalent) in 2012, as compared with 2011. The value of Irish pigmeat exports increased by an estimated €86 million.

Mixed trends were evident in key export destinations for dairy products during 2012. Exports to the United Kingdom performed strongly and increased by more than 5% to €960 million or 36% of total trade. The strongest performing categories were cheese, infant food and spreads. While demand from other EU markets weakened somewhat because of economic conditions, this was partially counterbalanced by an increase in the value of exports to international markets which are estimated to have reached more than €1 billion for the first time in 2012. These international markets provide dramatic growth potential into the future.

In so far as exports to third country markets have been concerned, I have been very active in developing relationships in new and expanding markets in order to raise the profile of Ireland and build the kind of confidence in Irish production and control systems that provide a platform for long-term trading relationships in the future. Since my appointment I have lead trade and political missions to China, the US and Algeria, and my Department continues to engage on market access issues with many other third countries. Ireland already has access for dairy products to markets worldwide and exports such products to over eighty countries, but I am working to increase the profile of the sector in potential growth markets.

In addition, since my appointment, there have been a number of notable successes in reaching agreement with authorities in Singapore, Egypt, Iran and the GCC Countries which allow for the export of Irish beef, with Singapore, South Africa, UAE, Canada and the Russian Federation-Customs Union for the export of Irish sheepmeat and with Australia and Serbia for the export of Irish pork. There is strong demand for meat globally and I remain focused on enabling Irish exporters to take advantage of the opportunities that arise.

Regarding employment, the function of Government is of course to create the economic conditions which will facilitate and encourage job creation. In relation to the agri food sector, the work being done with industry and the various Government Departments and State agencies to implement actions necessary to deliver on the vision outlined in Food Harvest 2020, together with the Government macroeconomic policy, is helping to make Ireland a more competitive place to do business and create the conditions necessary for job creation. The Forfás Annual Employment Survey indicates that since 2009, a total of 3,339 net new direct jobs were created in the food manufacturing sector and of course this kind of development will create spin off opportunities in the sub-supply, transport, sales and other areas.

As regards the future, in 2012 food client investments, supported by Enterprise Ireland, committed to more than 1,500 new jobs being created within three years. In 2013 to date Enterprise Ireland investments in food companies have resulted in new jobs commitments in excess of 500 and it is hoped that this level of new jobs commitments can be sustained over the coming years to contribute to the Government’s overall job creation targets. Of course investment in the agrifood sector has a larger economic multiplier than that in other manufacturing industry because many of the inputs are indigenous.

I am confident that Ireland is taking the steps necessary to avail of the opportunities presented by expanding global demand for food and am committed to ensuring that the contribution of the agrifood sector to the economy, exports and employment is maximised.