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09 February 2009: Minister Smith points to role of Agri-Food Sector in "sustaining and envigorating our economy"

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD today described the Irish agri-food sector as ¿Ireland's largest indigenous, manufacturing sector that will be a crucial element in sustaining and reinvigorating our economy.¿

Speaking at the opening of CATEX in the RDS, the country's premier exhibition of equipment, services and food and beverage products for the food service and hospitality sectors, Minister Smith reiterated his commitment to ¿ensuring the future of the food sector based on our land and sea resources, experienced workforce, reputation for quality and the professionalism and expertise at all levels of delivery to buyers and consumers.¿

Emphasising the significance of the sector, the Minister pointed out that it employs 50,000 people directly and up to 150,000 in the distribution, retailing and catering sectors. Minister Smith described events like CATEX as demonstrating ¿the diversity and strength of the Irish agri-food sector and the importance of the industry to the future of the economy.¿

Recognising the need to adapt to changing consumer requirements and lifestyles, the Minister said that ¿seeking smarter ways of operating, understanding changing consumer requirements and being flexible as markets change will equip the food service and hospitality sector to maintain business despite current challenges.¿

Date Released: 09 February 2009