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Food and Drinks Sector an Integral Part of Jobs Strategy, says Coveney

Measures will sustain and increase employment in food enterprises and aquaculture

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today welcomed the launch of the Jobs Strategy. "The 17 agri-food measures in the Strategy set out clear actions, steps to be taken and time-lines in each case. They will support food and drink companies in sustaining jobs and expanding business in particular on the export front, in line with the Food Harvest 2020 vision of 'Smart, Green Growth'. I am committed to the implementation of these measures and have already brought an Action Plan to the Food Harvest 2020 Committee. It is now an integral part of their planning. The general measures in the Jobs Strategy also include actions to improve access to credit across the micro sector, which had been a constraint on growth for small and micro companies", said the Minister.

Minister Coveney also drew attention to the importance of production at farm level, saying "the steps taken in Budget 2012 to provide stock relief and encourage farm partnerships, to improve farm structures and scale, to facilitate more efficient operations and to bring more innovative and energetic young prospective farmers into farming are integral to our growth vision for the future of Irish agri-food".

The Minister added "These ambitious measures will facilitate delivery of our Food Harvest 2020 expansion targets. Food Harvest provided an indication that it was possible to achieve a net 7,000 additional jobs, half of them in aquaculture and seafood, as exporting food companies were resilient and there were particular opportunities to expand aquaculture. Production of farmed seafood in Ireland has been hindered by lack of access to suitable large scale licensed areas and the aim now is to address this by creating new deep sea organic fish farming production areas.  The abolition of milk quotas by 2015 presents an opportunity to dramatically increase production of milk and added value products. The changing pattern of protein consumption globally and premium EU markets provide opportunities to increase the value and value-added components of Irish meat exports and drinks and other companies are currently taking decisions on future investment. International market demand for whiskey is increasing providing a huge opportunity for increased Irish production and marketing by the multi-national companies who have invested in Irish whiskey".

Note for Editor

The seventeen agri-food actions are:

1.  Promote 'co-opetition' projects within the food industry, encourage B2B business and facilitate mentoring by larger food companies of smaller companies - delivery in 2012.

2. Ensure completion of industry projects awarded aid under the Dairy, Beef and Sheepmeat Funds and implementation of major company expansion projects approved in the past 24 months.

3. Attract graduate talent into marketing roles within the food industry in line with the targets set out in Food Harvest Milestones for the Bord Bia Marketing Fellowship, Alumnus and Food Graduate Marketing Programmes (Bord Bia).

4. Work closely with the industry to develop their plans to deal with the increasing supply of raw material projected in Food Harvest 2020 and support the development of increased scale (Teagasc, EI).

5. Drive the technology capability of the industry, and progress the establishment of further industry and third-level research collaborations in the food sector.

6. Review the Food for Health Ireland collaborative research centre and develop plan for future support.

7. Implement incentives and measures to improve skills, farm structure and scale set out in Budget 2012.

8. Progress the development/licensing of large scale offshore finfish aquaculture sites in line with the road map set out in Food Harvest 2020 Milestones report.

9. Involve more food businesses in the Teagasc Food SME Technology Support Programme which targets start-up companies, growing enterprises and artisan food producers.

10. Win additional foreign investment from multinational food companies and assist food multinationals already in Ireland to win more projects incl. investments in the dairy/infant nutritional sector.

11. Research, map and add to the food incubation space potentially available in industry and State agencies for use by existing and new food entrepreneurs.

12. Complete DAFM, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia scoping exercise on the market potential for delivery of new food and nutritional products and models of service to older people.

13. Create over 150 jobs in the seafood sector by 2014 through the expansion of 18 seafood processing companies with investment supported by grant aid from BIM.

14. Run a number of business market development ventures, including two significant projects in 2012.

15. Achieve Food Harvest 2020 milestone targets for participation in Enterprise Ireland’s Lean services and the Leadership4Growth CEO Programmes for food companies.

16. Ensure continued industry participation in the implementation and review of the strategic research agendas (SRA) for food and primary agriculture - Food Research Ireland and Stimulating Sustainable Agricultural Production through Research and Innovation (SSAPRI).

17. Fund further collaborative inter-institutional research in line with Food Research Ireland and SSAPRI, to help underpin the sector and deliver the growth targets in Food Harvest 2020.

Food Harvest 2020 indicated the possibility of achieving a net additional 7,000 jobs including 3,500 in the aquaculture area.  

Date Released: 13 February 2012