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Minister Smith launches Food Agency 2015 Group

- Renewed Focus on development of Food Industry -

The Food Agency Agri 2015 Group was launched today by Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Food at the Department of Agriculture and Food.

The establishment of a group comprised of Chief Executives of all the Food related agencies was a key action point of Agri Vision 2015. Addressing the inaugural meeting, Minister Smith said "this new high powered group will be a force for the optimum development of the Irish food industry to steer a course for growth based on the key elements for success - competitiveness, innovation and consumer focus."

Quoting the Group's terms of reference, Minister Smith said. "The Irish Food industry continues to be our most valuable industry with sales worth over €17 billion generated annually. The Agri-Vision Plan of Action 2015 set an ambitious framework for the development of the Irish Food industry that requires a concerted approach and the co-operation of all partners. The Group will ensure and implement a fully consolidated approach to the development of the food sector as a whole. It will work in parallel with top executives of key food and drinks companies who will form the high level industry Committee also recommended under the Agri Vision 2015 Plan of Action."

The Group has been set up as recommended in the Agri Vision 2015 Plan of Action which was launched by Minister Coughlan in March and comprises An Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc, BIM, Fas, Failte Ireland and Udaras na Gaeilge, Food Safety Authority (FSAI) and the Food Safety Promotion Board.

The Food Agency Group will focus in particular on issues and challenges confronting the food industry as it enters a critical period of its development consequent on reform of the CAP, increasing trade liberalisation and rapidly evolving market conditions. Minister Smith said that in bringing together the various state agencies the Government's intention is to provide a renewed impetus to the development of the most important indigenous industries. "The Irish food industry competes on over 160 markets world wide not to mention an ever more sophisticated domestic market and it is essential that all the resources of all Government agencies combine in the most effective way possible to help the industry deal with an increasingly competitive marketplace."

Issues confronting the industry will be brought to the fore through the Food Industry Committee, and will be an important input to the work of the Food Agency Group. The Food Industry Committee, again chaired at Ministerial level, will comprise two groupings - representing the Small and Medium enterprises (SME) and larger companies. An informal meeting of the large company group took place early in the summer and was chaired by Minister Coughlan. Membership of the committee will be announced shortly.

18 July, 2006

Date Released: 18 July 2006