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Smith supports Irish Food Suppliers and Producers

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today told the Dáil that "we need an Irish retail sector that maintains a strong commitment to sourcing and providing a comprehensive range of familiar Irish products and brands."

While acknowledging that it is important that consumers continue to get value from retailers, the Minister said that a "fair return to suppliers and producers is essential to the maintenance of thousands of Irish jobs and the survival of primary producers."

Minister Smith described the Irish agri-food sector as "Ireland's most important indigenous sector, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout every county in the country, at both producer and processor level."  The Minister said that "the food industry is vital to our economic future, in terms of employment, value-added and export earnings."

The Minister acknowledged that it is ultimately "a matter of consumer choice if they wish to support quality Irish food products, indigenous Irish suppliers and Irish jobs." 

He also confirmed that he has initiated a series of meetings with large retailers and is impressing upon them the benefits of continuing to support, source and make available as wide and comprehensive a range of Irish products as possible.  Minister Smith said that he was acutely conscious of the competitive pressures on the sector and said that it was essential that, as a food producing country, "we have a robust food industry that provides an outlet for our producers and adds value to the primary product."  In that regard, the Minister noted that the retail sector has a key role to play through its sourcing and provision of quality Irish products and brands.

Date Released: 20 May 2009