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The Agri-Food Sector can be a flagship for growth and economic recovery - Minister Simon Coveney

Minister optimistic and confident of growth in Agri-Food sector as he publishes the Annual Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 2010/2011   


The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today said that 2010 was a very positive year for the Irish agri-food sector, following two very difficult years for all concerned. "Export figures show that the sector exported produce worth €7.8bn, an increase of about 11% on 2009.  The cereals sector had a particularly good year with output value of over €200m, an increase of over 88% on the previous year, while the dairy sector increased its exports by 17%.  Aggregate farm income also increased, by 31.5%.  This is all good news for the agri-food sector but also for the Irish economy as a whole".

The agri-food sector is one of Ireland's most important indigenous manufacturing sector, accounting for employing 150,000 people.  It is the primary outlet for the produce and output of family farms and includes approximately 600 food and drinks firms throughout the country that export to some 140 markets worldwide.  Much of the employment in the agri-food sector, both direct and indirect, is dispersed throughout the country making it particularly important to rural areas. Furthermore, the industry accounts for 61% of total manufacturing's consumption of Irish raw materials and the low import dependence and the low level of profit repatriation in the sector mean that the net inflow of funds to the Irish economy is much higher than in other sectors.

In order to maintain and expand these figures, the Food Harvest 2020 report proposed a strategy of smart green growth that will map the future direction of the agr-food sector for the next decade, a period that will be crucial for the development of a dynamic and forward-looking industry.

The targets agreed by the industry include increasing the value of primary output from the sector by 33%, increasing value-added by 40% and increasing exports by 42%. 

The Minister was speaking at the launch of his Department's Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 2010/2011 which provides a reference for all those who are interested in monitoring the performance of the agri-food sector.  It also provides an analysis of the structure and performance of the sector and it quantifies the benefits EU membership has had in terms of budget and trade.  It also provides a view of likely trends in the sector over the coming months and years. 

"The success of the sector comes at a time of continuing financial difficulties for Ireland" said the Minister.  “I am determined to make the Agri-food sector a flagship for positive growth and central to the Governments plans for economic recovery. Initial figures for 2011 are very promising and I expect growth from the last 12 months to continue this year".

The Minister concluded that the outlook for 2011 is broadly positive for the food sector with prospects of a 3% increase in the value of agri-food and drink exports.  Further diversification of export markets is likely as companies seek out and identify market opportunities in a very competitive trading environment.  Business investment in R&D and innovation has increased.  In relation to marketing a record 183 small companies have this year been awarded a total of €1 million in Bord Bia marketing grants towards activities geared at increasing sales by 5%.  A number of these companies envisage expanding full and part-time employment in 2011-2012. 

The Annual Review & Outlook for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 2010/2011 is available on the Department’s website at Annual Review and Outlook 2010/2011. In addition to the usual printable version, this year a web-friendly version was also produced to facilitate users who don't require the whole document or who don't have access to a printer.


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Date Released: 05 May 2011