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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, leads foreign direct investment and trade mission to the USA

- Ireland committed to sustainable growth of agri-food sector -
- Beef and Sheepmeat Access a Priority -

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, this weekend embarks on a 7-day foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade mission to the US, organised by Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia and his Department.  During the visit, Minister Coveney will have a series of meetings with Secretary for Agriculture Mr. Vilsack and key influencers on agricultural matters in the US Senate, with whom he will raise the issue of access for high quality Irish beef and sheepmeat to the US market. Minister Coveney will also meet with leading multinational food and drinks companies, representatives of Irish companies operating in the sector in the US and members of the wider Irish diaspora who are active in the food and drinks industry across the US.   The meetings and discussions will cover a range of investment and trade issues.

This visit reflects the importance which the Government attaches to its economic and trade relationships with the US, and is part of a broad long term strategy to promote increased foreign direct investment from the US in the food and drinks sector, and to further develop trade links. Minister Coveney said "The Irish food industry has developed into a sophisticated, outward looking and dynamic sector and a number of Irish owned companies have a significant presence in the US.  International food and drink companies have also established important businesses in Ireland and there is significant potential to increase this figure, in particular from the US.  In terms of exports, the value of Irish food and drink exports to the US was US$580 million in 2011, an increase of +16.6 percent over 2010 (CSO), and there is significant potential for growth".

Speaking before his departure, Minister Coveney said "A crucial part of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy and the Government's Action Plan for Jobs is to increase trade and investment activity with key markets such as the US. Promoting foreign direct investment in the Irish food sector and building on Ireland's existing strong base of international food ingredients and infant nutritional companies is a key strategic goal for this Government. The US already represents an important food and drinks market for Ireland.  There is strong potential to continue to grow export sales to the US - both in existing and new categories - thereby contributing to the fulfilment of key ambitions of Food Harvest 2020, the blue print for the expansion of Ireland's food and agri sector. In this context I think that there can be tremendous opportunities for grass fed, sustainably produced, Irish beef and sheepmeat in the US market and this is why I want to raise the question of market as a priority with Secretary Vilsack and with key members of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "

Minister Coveney outlined some of the reasons for Ireland's success on the international stage in attracting many of the world’s giants in the food sector to locate here, and the potential for further growth. "Ireland is renowned as a producer of high quality food and drink products for global markets and has already been chosen as a location for investment by major food, drink and infant nutrition companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Diageo, Ferrero, Kraft, HJ Heinz, Wyeth, Abbott, Danone and many others. The quality of Ireland's natural environment resource base and food industry expertise and talent are what makes this country so attractive for international companies, and they continue to choose Ireland both for new investments and for expansions of existing operations. Quality ingredients have already drawn three of the world's top four producers of infant milk formula to choose Ireland as a manufacturing base, from which they supply 10% of world demand.  This visit is about cementing these existing links and opening doors for increased investment and expansions in Ireland.

The Irish Government has invested in creating the right infrastructure for food and drinks industries, and this policy is paying dividends. In R&D, the Irish state has invested in an advanced infrastructure - led by industry - to create breakthrough innovation.  The sub-supply base that we have in Ireland around the food, biopharma and the ICT sectors provide optimum conditions for building and operating the most modern and efficient food related manufacturing plants in the world.  I am confident that over time this will help stimulate continued growth in new FDI and expansion by the food and drinks sector into Ireland.

We are committed to sustainable food production and to demonstrating our ambition and capacity for long-term growth including a 50% increase in milk production. Ireland operates rigorous standards in quality, traceability and food safety.  Our environment and resource base, including water availability, makes food production in Ireland sustainable and environmentally friendly and eminently suited to the strategic supply requirements of international companies. We are also the first country to measure the carbon footprint of our beef herd and plan to add water footprint and biodiversity measures", he said.

"Ministerial visits to important and strategic international trading partners form a key part of our strategy to further develop our trade and investment links with US food and drinks companies. This visit will open many doors for Ireland and I am confident that this visit, which draws on the expertise of Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland, will facilitate further trade opportunities and play a major role in building sustainable investment and jobs in our economy", the Minister concluded.

Note for Editors

Facts about Ireland's exports of food and drink products and of food ingredients:

  • Exports €9billion / $12billion - and increase of 12% on 2010; +25% in the last 2 years
  • Exports food and drink to 170 countries worldwide
  • Is the 4th largest net exporter of beef in the world
  • Produces 10%+ of global infant formula
  • Produces 50%+ of all global cream liqueur

Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirit category in the world

Date Released: 22 June 2012