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Minister Emphasises The Government's Commitment To The Development Of The Food Industry

Speaking today when he officially opened the new €7.5 million extension to the Hilton Foods production and packing facility in Drogheda, Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD said " The meat sector is hugely significant to the Irish economy, not just in terms of employment and trade, but also as a driver of investment, with the value last year of Irish meat and livestock exports reaching almost €2.4 billion, a significant contribution not only to underpinning agricultural incomes but also to our balance of trade."

He pointed out that the opening of this new extension is a significant innovation between producers, processor and marketer who have come together to promote meat, both in Ireland and in overseas markets. It further strengthens the relationship between Tesco Ireland and Hilton Foods in the meat sector and their commitment to a quality product. The investment has brought about a welcome additional 20 jobs, with more expected in future.

Minister Smith said "As with the rest of the food industry, the Government is committed to a strong consumer oriented meat sector. To that end, we have continued to support actions that help the industry to address the needs of the market. My commitment to the meat industry is based on a clear understanding of its value to the Irish economy in general, and to rural communities in particular. In recent weeks I was also pleased, together with the Tánaiste, to launch an Innovation Initiative by Enterprise Ireland for the Prepared Consumer Foods sector. This envisages some €30 million in a range of innovation supports being available to innovating companies and includes possibilities for partnerships between large and smaller companies and for joint innovation projects between food and non-food companies."

Date Released: 17 October 2008