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Minister Creed's speech at Bord Bia Marketplace International, 12 April 2018

Bord Bia Marketplace International 2018, 12 April 2018 - R.D.S

Minister Creed Speaking Notes

Good morning. I would like to welcome you all here today to Bord Bia Marketplace International 2018. The purpose of this event is to build trade relationships with retailers, food service buyers, ingredient buyers and distributors from across the globe.

  • I would especially like to welcome the record number of overseas buyers from markets worldwide, who have travelled to Ireland to take part in Marketplace today, and hopefully will build significant business leads as a result.
  • I would also like to welcome the representatives of the Irish food and drink companies here to the RDS today and to wish you every success in this business development event. This is an outstanding opportunity for you to meet with global buyers on a one-on-one basis and to diversify or build on your existing export markets.

The value of Marketplace

The last Marketplace was held three years ago and welcomed over 500 buyers from 43 countries to Dublin.

I am told that today’s Marketplace 2018 – the largest event that Bord Bia has ever staged - features the attendance of some 550 buyers from 52 countries meeting with almost 200 Irish companies. A staggering 4,000 face to face pre-arranged meetings will happen here today. That is some target!

Export Performance

Because of our competitive advantage in sustainable food production, and our relatively small domestic market, Ireland exports over 80% of the food it produces to almost 180 countries worldwide.

The agri-food sector faces significant challenges, including:

  • the issues arising from Brexit and the uncertainty that brings about our future trading relationship with the UK, our closest trading partner;   
  • increased protectionism and exchange rate volatility globally; and
  • as we are all too well aware, increasingly unpredictable weather events, arising as a result of climate change – for example the current fodder difficulties being experienced at farm level.

Despite all these challenges the Irish agri-food sector recorded the 8th consecutive year of export growth last year - to reach a record of €13.6 billion, a massive 74% increase since 2009 - driven in particular by rapid growth in exports to new markets outside the EU.   

Food Wise 2025

This export growth is in line with our Food Wise 2025 strategy of growing the value of agri-food exports by 85% to €19billion by 2025, and creating 23,000 direct and indirect jobs all along the supply chain. Food Wise is the latest in a rolling series of strategies for the sector, developed by stakeholders with strong Government support. I personally chair the High Level Implementation Committee which drives the implementation of the strategy. 

To the buyers here today, I want to highlight that there is a national shared commitment to the highest food safety standards, to the quality of the produce we export, but also a shared commitment to the sustainable production of our food products. Some of you have had the opportunity to see this at first hand earlier this week.

Origin Green

Sustainable production and sourcing is a key focus of this event, and indeed is one of the key themes of our Food Wise strategy, which states that “environmental protection and economic competitiveness are equal and complementary – one cannot be achieved at the expense of the other”.  All the Irish food businesses here today have taken that message very much on board, and are committed members of our national sustainability programme, Origin Green, which you will hear about in a lot more detail in the course of today.

More than 300 Irish food and drink companies are now verified Origin Green members representing over 90% of Irish food and drink exports. I can assure you that the Government is committed to further enhancing Ireland’s credentials as a producer of high quality and sustainable food products.

Conclusion

To conclude, I believe that this will be a very rewarding day for both Irish food businesses and our visiting buyers.

To all the delegates here, I say, make the most of your meetings, enjoy the day and we look forward to seeing you again in your own countries and here in Ireland.

To all in Bord Bia, led by their Chief Executive Tara McCarthy, thank you for your dedication, the professional organisation of this event and the hard work put in over the last 18 months to bring it together,  your work with the client companies to identify and validate their key target markets,  and in ensuring that their  focus and resources have been on where they are most likely to do business and to finally to link them to buyers.  

Thank you all and I wish you all good business today!