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Increased Global Demand for Food to Drive Growth in Irish Agri-Food Industry - Coveney

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today said that "the Irish agri-food industry is well placed to meet the growing global demand for food, provided that it retains and improves its competitiveness."

Speaking in the Dáil, Minister Coveney noted that the world's population will have increased from 6 billion to 8 billion between 1999 and 2025, while the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations estimate that the proportion of the world's population living in cities will increase from its current level of 50 per cent to 70 per cent.

Minister Coveney said "based on projected global population growth as well as increased affluence and urbanisation, it is anticipated that global demand for food will increase by 70 per cent.  Ireland is already a major meat and dairy producing country with a huge exporting capability. Our production significantly exceeds our home consumption in key products - our self sufficiency is 617 per cent for beef, 344 per cent for sheepmeat, 573 per cent for cheese and 915 per cent for butter."

The Minister reiterated his view that "agriculture and the agri-food sector is Ireland’s most important indigenous industry and has a key role to play in terms of direct economic activity and is one of the growth sectors designated to advance the country’s national export-led economic recovery."  Minister Coveney described the agri-food industry as "embedded in the economy and contributes to national prosperity. Due to its low import content and low profit repatriation levels, the net foreign earnings of this sector amount to 32 per cent of the total foreign earnings from primary and manufacturing industries."

Minister Coveney concluded by saying that the "the three key attributes of the sector - its embedded contribution to employment and exports, its ability to garner foreign export earnings and its potential to generate export-led growth - provide the solid foundation to position this progressive, indigenous industry as one of the central components of the country's export-driven recovery."

Date Released: 14 April 2011