Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has announced the opening of the Ukrainian market for Irish beef and pork.
Speaking at the 21st meeting of the Food Wise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee today, he said; "This agreement follows on from bilateral negotiations between my department and the Ukrainian authorities, with the assistance of the Irish Embassy in Prague. The opening of this new market is a reflection of the confidence the Ukrainian authorities have in the high standards of food safety and the rigorous controls in Ireland. It marks another important step in the development of Ireland’s agri-food links with Ukraine.”
Details on these new arrangements for trading with the Ukraine are being added to the department’s market access portal and a trader notice will issue for processors and exporters shortly.
The minister also led discussions on the preparations of the department and relevant State agencies for Brexit, on the development of new markets for agri food products, and on the development of new opportunities for adding value to agri food production, through initiatives in the bioeconomy.
The development of new market opportunities for the Irish agri food sector is one of the key themes of Food Wise 2025 and is a central part of Ireland’s Brexit mitigation strategy. Through the oversight structures established under Food Wise, the minister coordinates the work of the department and agencies, to ensure that Irish food and drink exports have access to key markets, and that products are targeted at the right markets and the right segments within these markets.
Referring to these efforts, Minister Creed said: “The global food market presents significant growth opportunities for the Irish agri-food sector. This is vitally important in the context of Brexit. This is why my Department and its agencies are focussing significant time and resources on opening new markets for Irish exporters.”
In 2018, Minister Creed led trade missions to Turkey, US and Canada, China and Malaysia and Indonesia. One of the highlights of that year was the market access secured for Irish beef to China. Over 1,400 tonnes of Irish beef landed in China in 2018 and there is significant potential for increasing these volumes. The Department also launched an online Market Access Export Information Portal, which is a one-stop-shop for exporters to get detailed market access and export information on open agri-food markets around the world.
The minister also reflected on his department’s trade agenda for 2019. In March, Minister Creed led a trade mission to Turkey, focused on the live trade. Further missions are planned to China in May, to Japan and South Korea in June and to Algeria and Egypt in November.
The Minister stated: “Looking forward, market and trade insights suggest that the global demand for Irish food and drink will remain positive in 2019. I am encouraged by the resilience demonstrated by the Irish agri-food sector in 2018 in the face of significant weather events and with the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit. I am confident that this resilience will continue throughout 2019. In the meantime we will be doing everything we can to promote Irish food in international markets. ”
Today’s meeting coincided with the publication by the Department of updated trade statistics for the agri-food sector in 2018. Minister Creed stated: “The agri-food sector is Ireland’s most important indigenous industry, playing a vital role in Ireland’s economy. Irish food and drink was exported to over 180 markets worldwide in 2018. The sector employs 173,000 people, representing almost eight per cent of employment, and is particularly important in rural and coastal areas. 2018 saw another record year in both the value and volume of our exports, reaching €13.9 billion. This is the ninth year in a row that exports for the sector have increased in value.”
The committee also considered the potential linkages between the agri-food sector and the bio-economy. The objective of this work is to develop business opportunities for farm and other food enterprises, for example by developing value streams for agri food by products. Innovation in this area has the potential to improve the viability of farms and other businesses along the supply chain, and contribute positively to Ireland’s climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Referring to government policy in this area, the minister said: “I have viewed first-hand the potential of the Irish bio-economy, for example with the development of an advanced biorefinery by Glanbia in Lisheen, Co Tipperary. This project will take by products from the dairy sector, and add value by turning them into lactic acid that can be converted into things like biodegradable plastics, bio based fertilisers and other minerals. It is a perfect example of the strong synergies between our efforts to improve profitability in the sector and to take care of our planet for future generations. The report I received today highlights government efforts to address the challenges and raise awareness of the opportunities in this area. The development of a strong bio-economy is now becoming a key feature in government and EU policy and offers Ireland significant climate action, industrial and primary production opportunities.”