Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has led an Irish agri-food trade mission to the Gulf Region.
According to a statement published on gov.ie, the schedule will encompass food fair Gulfood 2022 in Dubai, a two-day trade mission to Saudi Arabia and McConalogue's participation in the Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods week at EXPO 2020 in Dubai, where Ireland is one of 85 countries with a national pavilion.
The statement published on gov.ie said that the mission will include government meetings in Dubai and Riyadh, engagements facilitated by Bord Bia with Irish food companies and their trade customers, and meetings and events across the dairy, meat, prepared food, and horse-racing sectors.
The statement published on gov.ie added that in addition to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Sustainable Food Systems Ireland will participate in the trade mission, which has been organised in close cooperation with the embassies of Ireland in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh.
Statement By Minister McConalogue
The statement published on gov.ie included a statement from Minister McConalogue, in which he said, "I'm delighted and honoured to lead the first physical trade mission in the post COVID world. The Gulf Region is a strategically important market for our food exports and Bord Bia has done tremendous work in developing the region.
"This trade mission reflects the ambition in the Food Vision 2030 strategy to further develop valuable market opportunities for our quality, safe and sustainable food produce. I believe that the Gulf region offers significant value growth potential for Irish food exports I'm excited to meet buyers in the region and tell them of the world class food producers by our exceptional farm families as well as our innovative processors and marketeers. The Gulf Region is the food crossroads of the world and we will take every opportunity to tell the great story of Irish food."
McConalogue added, "In recognition of the importance of the Gulf region, my Department has appointed an agricultural attaché to the Embassy of Ireland to the United Arab Emirates. I hope that this mission will serve to build on and promote Ireland’s global reputation in agri-food, which is built on foundation of Irish family farms, producing quality and sustainable produce."
The statement published on gov.ie also included a statement from Bord Bia global business development director Ailish Forde, in which she said, "The Gulf region represents high potential growth opportunities for Irish food and drink producers, a market that values high quality products, and where Ireland is recognised for its excellence in producing sustainably produced products. Our new Bord Bia strategy for the region provides a roadmap for our ambitions to substantially increase Irish exports. Sustainability is at the heart of all of Bord Bia's work over the next three years and building strength in sustainability is a strategic enabler for the industry."
Statement By Bord Bia
Additionally, Bord Bia issued a statement in which it said that notwithstanding the market volatility from COVID-19 on trade, exports by Irish companies to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were valued at €155 million last year, highlighting the continued strong opportunities that exist in this rapidly expanding market.
Bord Bia said that it has identified Saudi Arabia and the UAE as priority markets in the region, accounting for a combined 50% of current Irish trade in the Gulf region, and that in 2021, Irish food and drink exports to the wider Middle East market were valued at €311 million comprising dairy and dairy ingredients worth €272 million, followed by consumer foods at €21 million.
Bord Bia said that its new three-year strategy outlines a target of €380 million in Irish food and drink exports to the wider Middle East region by 2025, led by dairy and consumer foods, and that in this plan Ireland will target exports in excess of €100 million to Saudi Arabia and €85 million to the UAE by 2025. Bord Bia said that in support of this goal, the key objectives for this week’s trade mission are to help drive commercial opportunities for Irish dairy and consumer food exporters in the region, improve government-to-government engagement in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and enhance the reputation of Ireland as a trusted supplier and trading partner for high-quality, sustainably produced food and drink products.
Bord Bia also said that the UAE continues to be an important market for the premiumisation of Irish beef, and that during the five-day trade mission Bord Bia plans to inaugurate a new Chefs' Irish Beef Club (CIBC) member into the Dubai chapter. Bord Bia added taht CIBC is an exclusive international forum that brings together some of the world's most high-profile chefs who collectively endorse Irish beef.
Bord Bia's statement included further statements from Forde, in which she said that in a region where as much as 80%-90% of food is imported, food security remains a key strategic and policy priority for Gulf states, and, "Currently there are 43 million people living in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and by 2050 this is expected to increase to 58 million. Population growth has played, and will continue to play, a significant role in the surge in demand for food and food imports. Despite successes in developing domestic food production capabilities, these countries will remain largely reliant on importing food. Ireland is ideally positioned to meet this demand and, through Origin Green, can provide the perfect solution for the growing demands of consumers whose changing dietary habits mean they are becoming more aware of the need to purchase sustainably produced food."
Bord Bia's statement also included a statement from Minister McConalogue, in which he said ahead of the trade mission, "Our Food Vision 2030 strategy sets a strong ambition for future value growth in Irish agri-food exports to €21 billion by 2030, based on our premium quality, safe and sustainably produced food products, with family farms as the bedrock of our food system. The current market dynamics of the Gulf region, including strong GDP and increased consumer spending power, will make it an increasingly important market for our export-focussed food industry."
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