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"Irish Food Industry Needs Strong, Recognisable, National Food Brand" - Coveney

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today emphasised the "need for the development of a strong, recognisable, national brand for Irish food and food products."

Minister Coveney was opening the inaugural National Food and Agribusiness Summit at Croke Park, where he addressed the conference on a range of issues. The Minister presented a positive assessment of the prospects for the Irish food and agribusiness sector and referred to "Ireland's competitive advantage, based on the country's pre-existing global image of a 'green' island, as well as a sustainable, grass-based, year-round production system with its associated low-carbon footprint."

The Minister said that "as well as the undoubted opportunities that there are, the Irish food sector also faces a number of challenges, which I am confident can be successfully addressed and overcome.  Central to that will be the development of a strong, recognisable national food brand. In addition, Irish food companies and the sector need greater co-operation, competition and consolidation to compete effectively against larger global competitors."

Minister Coveney said that the "opportunities arising from the end of milk quotas in 2015 must be fully capitalised on, particularly given that Ireland is one of only a few countries with scope for large production expansion after the abolition of quotas. That said, while the quota regime remains in place, producers must have regard to the limitations on production and every effort has to be made to stay within quota limits and avoid the possibility of incurring a super-levy in the 2011/2012 milk quota year."

Minister Coveney said that the three key themes of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy - Smart, Green, Growth - were critical to the development of the Irish agriculture and agri-food sectors over the next decade. "Ireland must continue to prioritise environmental protection and should scientifically validate the country's environmental credentials. If we can do this, we can achieve international recognition as a producer of environmentally sustainable food and food products."

Date Released: 16 June 2011