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Smith Welcomes Growth Prospects for Irish Food, Drink and Horticulture in 2011

- "sector is of critical importance, both in terms of economic recovery and job maintenance and creation" -

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today welcomed the "strong performance of Irish food and drink exports in 2010 and the encouraging prospects for food, drink and horticulture in 2011."

Following the launch by Bord Bia of their annual Performance and Prospects Report, the Minister described the 11 per cent increase, to €7.88 billion, in the value of Irish food and drink exports in 2010 as "further evidence of an excellent performance by the sector in difficult trading circumstances which further underlines the critical importance of the sector in terms of economic recovery and employment maintenance and creation."

Minister Smith noted that exports grew right across the sector, with increases in exports of dairy products, meat, prepared food products, beverages and seafood, while the value of horticulture exports was maintained. Overall, food and drink exports accounted for 30 per cent of the growth in total merchandise exports in 2010.

The Minister said that there was "clear evidence of confidence in the sector, with 70 per cent of respondents to the Bord Bia survey describing prospects for their industry as good or very good, up from 56 per cent in 2009.  Furthermore, 20 per cent of respondents confirmed that they had increased numbers employed in the past year, with more than 60 per cent maintaining employment levels."

Acknowledging that the global recovery remains fragile, the Minister expressed confidence that the food, drink and horticulture sector will continue to perform strongly in 2011 "with increased demand for dairy products, the maintenance in beef export values and good prospects for beverages, seafood and horticulture."

The Minister stressed the fact that the strong performance of the sector in 2010 is not just a short term phenomenon.  "I believe that the strong growth figures in 2010, and positive outlook for 2011, serve to further underline the importance of the ambitious, medium term growth targets in Food Harvest 2020, which envisages growing food and drink exports to €12 billion by 2020".  He said that the food industry is a highly innovative and technologically advanced sector operating in a growing world market.  "My Department, Bord Bia, Teagasc, Enterprise Ireland and all the state services are working closely with the very talented people in the industry to maximise its potential for economic growth and job creation over the coming years".

Date Released: 12 January 2011