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Smith emphasises need for "Creation of long-term sustainability in Agri-food sector - Irelands most important indigenous sector"

  • Food and Drinks Sector Critical to Future of The Irish Economy
  • €140m awarded through the Food Institutional Research Measure since 2000

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today emphasised the importance of the Irish agrifood sector "especially in the present economic climate".  The industry is Ireland's most important indigenous sector, with 800 companies employing over 45,000 people and producing over a third of our net export earnings from the primary and manufacturing sectors.

The Minister was in Cork to launch the UCC/Teagasc Strategic Alliance in Food Research and described collaboration between industry and academia as "vitally important to the growth of the industry into the future".  Minister Smith said that the importance of the food and drinks sector to the future development of the Irish economy, which is currently turning the corner, was acknowledged in various recent reports, including "Building Ireland's Smart Economy - A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal" and the Innovation Task Force Report - "Innovation Ireland" - launched in March this year, which concluded that Ireland was ideally positioned to develop the agri-food sector.

Minister Smith said that the UCC/Teagasc Alliance, launched today, "is a natural progression of longstanding culture of collaboration which will represent a more consolidated point of contact for the agri-food industry, ensuring more streamlined and effective engagement with the food sector, both nationally and internationally".  The Minister stressed his Department's investment to the research system and pointed out that "since 2000, my Department, through the Food Research Institutional Measure, has awarded a total of €140 million to food research projects across the island of Ireland, of which Teagasc and UCC have been awarded funding of €86.5 million".

Minister Smith expressed the confidence that "the UCC/Teagasc Alliance will strengthen the capability of both Institutions and ensure that they will make a significant contribution to creating new scientific knowledge as well as building on existing knowledge across the three thematic areas which they will target.  The three areas: Food for health, food science and technology; and food business and the consumer will straddle sectors of strategic importance to Ireland such as dairy foods, dairy based ingredients and infant formula, meat and meat preparations (including marine), beverages and prepared consumer foods".

The Minister concluded by saying that, "of particular interest through the research programmes is the sustainable extended chain approach from 'farm to fork' which will capture all stages of the food chain from production through processing and on to consumer benefits and environmental impact. It is now more important than ever, given the current economic climate, that the profile of Ireland's scientific capability is raised even further on the global stage".


Date Released: 28 May 2010