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Minister Coughlan leads Enterprise Ireland Food Trade and Innovation visit to Japan

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., is leading an Enterprise Ireland visit to Japan this week. While the emphasis of the visit will be on food innovation as well as specific sectoral innovation in the soft drinks and seafood processing sectors it is expected that the visit will facilitate the development of new trading opportunities.

Outlining the importance of the visit, Minister Coughlan said: "Japan is a world leader in pioneering and developing the food and functional foods industry. This visit offers an opportunity to explore the potential for future collaborative research projects between Japanese and Irish food companies and food research institutes. The functional food and beverages sector has grown to be one of the biggest global trends in food supply over the past 20 years. Ireland's traditional strengths as a dairy and beverage producer along with our strong pharmaceutical industry base, ample availability of quality raw materials, state-of-the-art food and drink research centres, and world class third level institutions, position us to become a leading force in the functional foods sector."

Minister Coughlan added that "we are also committed to emulating the collaborate approach between Government, industry and the research community that has proved so successful in Japan."

Mike Feeney, Director of Internationally Traded Business Sectors, Enterprise Ireland: "A number of Enterprise Ireland clients are already collaborating with Japanese food companies who are experts in this field of food science and processing. Not alone will it benefit our clients to learn from Japanese expertise, but collaboration will also benefit Japanese food companies, offering them access to our leading-edge food science and technology research and access to a valuable and growing EU market for Functional Foods and Beverages."

Six Irish soft drinks companies are participating in the Soft Drinks Innovation Study programme whereby they will meet with a number of key Japanese soft drinks manufacturers to evaluate emerging technology, packaging and product innovations in the sector. In conjunction with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), six Irish seafood processing companies, will be in examining the latest freezing technologies with a view to transferring them back to Ireland.

Note for Editors

Functional Foods

A functional food is one that has a beneficial added ingredient which gives food an additional health or nutritional benefits over and above its usual nutritional value. Examples include milk fortified with extra calcium or dairy products and margarines with added plant stanols or sterols to help reduce cholesterol.

Enterprise Ireland Japan

The Enterprise Ireland office in Tokyo is based on the ground floor of Ireland House in Tokyo, with an incubation centre based on the 4th floor. Four Irish companies are in residence in the incubator at present. The Tokyo office was established in 1973 and the incubator in 2001.

Date Released: 27 February 2008