Food Wise 2025, the ten-year strategy for the agrifood sector, underlines the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy, identifies the opportunities and challenges facing the sector and illustrates the potential for further sustainable development.
The expert committee, that prepared the Food Wise 2025 Strategy, believed that the following projections are achievable by 2025: increasing the value of agrifood exports by 85% to €19 billion; increasing value-added in the sector by 70% to in excess of €13 billion; and increasing the value of primary production by 65% to almost €10 billion. With regard to employment, Food Wise foresees the creation of 23,000 additional jobs in the agrifood sector all along the supply chain from primary production to higher value added product development.
These projections relate primarily to increasing the added-value of agrifood exports.
Market development – developing new markets and growing existing markets, based on market insights – is one of the five themes of Food Wise, along with environmental sustainability, competitiveness, innovation and human capital. Obviously market development and diversification is also a key response to the challenges which Brexit poses for the sector.
In April 2017 I launched a seven point action plan on market access. This is being implemented through a variety of actions, including:
- a market prioritisation exercise and subsequent detailed studies carried out by Bord Bia on behalf of my Department. On meat the five countries selected for detailed study were: Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Mexico & Malaysia; and for dairy: Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia & Vietnam.
- A market access web portal launched in May 2018, and available on my Department’s website provides a wide range of valuable information to exporters.
Trying to gain new market access, or enhance and improve existing market access has been a particularly prominent feature of recent Ministerial Trade Missions led by myself and my colleague Andrew Doyle. Trade missions over the last two years have focused on key growth markets:
- Asia – China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia;
- North America – USA, Mexico and Canada;
- as well as the Gulf States and Turkey.
In 2018 a number of additional markets were opened by my Department including the Chinese beef market, which was successfully opened after ongoing work over a number of years, as well as beef, sheepmeat and poultry markets in Kuwait and Qatar.
Since the Brexit vote in 2016, I have allocated significant additional funding for Bord Bia, as a key part of the Government’s efforts to support the sector in responding to Brexit uncertainty. In Estimates 2019, I provided a further allocation of €5.3 million to Bord Bia, bringing its total grant in aid to €46.6 million for 2019. This compares to a grant of €28.9 million in 2014, and represents a 60% increase in funding for marketing and promotion of our food offering over five years. Bord Bia also received approval last year to recruit an additional 32 staff, which will bring total staff numbers to 146 in 2019.
In Budget 2019, I secured €20 million for a new Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot targeted at suckler farmers and specifically aimed at further improving the carbon efficiency of beef production. This Pilot complements the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), an agri-environmental measure specifically targeted at improving the genetic merit of the suckler herd, which provides Irish beef farmers with some €300 million in funding over the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) period.
All of these efforts are aimed at adding value all along the supply chain, supporting the agrifood sector as the most important indigenous sector, providing employment and supporting communities throughout rural Ireland.