Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD will this week lead the first leg of an agri-food trade mission to Asia, covering Japan and Singapore.
Minister of State Martin Heydon TD, who has special responsibility for new market development, will lead the second leg of the trade mission, to Vietnam, next week. Japan and the South East Asia region are priority high value growth markets for Irish food and drink exports.
Speaking ahead of the Trade Mission, Minister McConalogue stated:
"I am delighted to lead this trade mission to Japan and Singapore as it represents a critical opportunity to further promote Ireland’s high quality, safe and sustainably produced food and drink products in Japan, Singapore and the wider South East Asian premium markets.
“We have successfully opened and expanded market access for Irish beef and sheepmeat exports to Japan in recent years, and this trade mission provides us with another opportunity to promote these exports to Japan. This is our third trade mission to the region since 2017 and I am excited to build on the great work that has been done before. My key focus is on opening and developing new markets that will grow our world class food sector in order to deliver stronger returns to the farm families of Ireland who are the bedrock of our industry.”
“This Trade Mission will strengthen and build ties between Ireland and the region in relation to agri-food trade. It will raise awareness of Ireland’s sustainable food production systems and our commitment to supporting business-to-business relationships which can make a real difference to Irish food and drink exporters."
Bord Bia’s launch of its three-year regional strategy will be the focus of its part of the trade mission to Japan and South East Asia. Its new regional strategy outlines a target of €800 million in Irish food and drink exports to South East Asia by 2025, led by the dairy and meat sectors.
Total agri-food exports to Japan in 2021 amounted reached almost €180 million, a 20% increase when compared to 2020 and a 350% increase over the last decade, according to CSO trade statistics. Last year, dairy exports to Japan, mainly cheddar cheese, amounted to €66 million; with pigmeat exports at €50 million; and beef exports were valued at over €28m. Fish (€16 million) and beverages (€10 million) are other important export categories.
Minister McConalogue commented:
"Ireland’s positive relationship with Japan is going from strength to strength as evidenced by the Taoiseach’s recent visit in July and the vibrant trading partnership between our countries. This has seen Irish food exports to Japan continue to grow over the last few years even when faced with the recent global supply chain shocks. We share many cultural outlooks on food and farming so this will be a great opportunity to enhance our relationship.
“I look forward to building on the strong Government to Government relationships we have during my meetings with my counterparts in Japan and to promoting Ireland’s high quality food offering in this valuable market."
Singapore is a critical regional hub in South East Asian supply chains.
In Singapore, Minister McConalogue and Bord Bia CEO Michael Murphy will attend Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) trade show where 10 Irish companies are participating. FHA is the largest trade event of its kind in the region attracting over 80,000 visitors. FHA will feature a Bord Bia pavilion aimed at building reputation among trade media of Irish food and drink industry.
Minister McConalogue stated that:
"The South East Asian market continues to grow at pace and represents a priority target market for diversification of Irish food exports. I look forward to setting out Ireland’s commitment to sustainable food production and our ambition for Ireland to be a world leader in Sustainable Food Systems, encompassing sustainability in all its dimensions – environmental, social and economic.
“I am also pleased to support a number of our leading food exporters in engaging with high value customers in this market and showcasing the quality of the offering from Irish food producers.”
Michael Murphy, Chief Executive of Bord Bia, said, “Irish food and drink exports to South East Asia last year were valued at €535 million, a 25% increase on 2020. These figures demonstrate that even against the backdrop of the challenges posed by the pandemic alongside other macro factors such as logistical issues and higher dairy prices, customers in this region are still committed to sourcing sustainable, quality produce they trust. Irish dairy exporters are well positioned to supply ingredients to manufacturers producing western style bakery, functional drinks and other consumer products, while retailers and restaurants across this region are finding success with Irish meats, seafood and alcohol. Ireland’s national sustainability programme, Origin Green, resonates particularly well in this sector and Bord Bia’s new strategy will provide a roadmap for these food businesses to explore and substantially increase their business with Ireland.”
Ciaran Gallagher, Bord Bia’s Regional Director for South East Asia, said that with the population of South East Asia predicted to expand by a further 100 million people by 2050, there will be a growing import demand, and one that “Ireland is ideally positioned to meet”.
“This trade mission marks the start of an intensified programme of activity undertaken by Bord Bia to promote Irish food products and their producers to local partners who place a value on high quality food products,” he said. “Trade missions such as this are a valuable means of raising the profile of Ireland as a food producing nation and unlocking commercial opportunities for Irish food and drink companies.”
Minister McConalogue concluded:
"In line with our shared Food Vision 2030 strategy for the sustainable growth of the sector, increasing market access, developing and expanding our exports to new markets, and in particular in Japan and the wider South East Asian region are priorities for my Department, working in close collaboration with Bord Bia, the Embassies of Ireland in Japan and Singapore, and the Irish agri-food sector as a whole.
“I am using this trade mission to bring the amazing food produced on Irish family farms to the retail outlets and restaurants of this really exciting market."