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Written Answers - Food Industry

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 193.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the extent to which he and his EU colleagues have continued to monitor developments in the beef, lamb and dairy sectors in the context of world trade with a view to ensuring the continued competitiveness of Irish products on European and world markets; the factors taken into account in any such considerations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7455/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The export performance of the meat and dairy sectors is affected by factors such as currency exchange rates, fluctuations in market prices and tariff rates. The value of beef exports in 2011 is estimated at €1.81 billion, an increase of 15% on the 2010 level. Similarly, lamb exports in same period are estimated to have increased by 10% to an estimated €180 million. In 2011, exports of dairy products were valued at €2.66 billion, which is an increase of 17% on the previous year. These figures underscore the competitiveness of Irish dairy and meat products across a culturally and geographically diverse range of overseas markets. Dairy products, for instance, are exported to over 80 countries. Nevertheless, I am working with industry on an ongoing basis to raise the profile of the Irish dairy sector and the Irish agri-food sector generally in emerging markets.

I have been very proactive in developing relationships in new and expanding markets in order to build the kind of confidence in Irish production and control systems that provide a platform for long-term trading relationships in the future. As part of that effort, I hosted a visit from the Chinese Vice-Minister for Agriculture last year, and signed a mutual co-operation agreement in the agri-food sector. I intend visiting China in the Spring of 2012 to visit my Chinese counterparts there and to further develop this very important relationship. I also visited Algeria to meet my counterpart, Minister Rachid Benaissa, and to open a new Irish Dairy Board Office and Packing Centre in what is already a significant, but expanding market for Irish dairy products, and I am confident that my continuing work in this area will ultimately pay dividends for the dairy and other sectors. In addition, my Department continues to engage with a range of third countries in Asia, the Middle East, South America, Africa and Eastern Europe with a view to opening new markets and facilitating the expansion of Irish dairy products in existing markets.

To conclude, the Deputy can be assured that my Department and the State Agencies under its remit will continue to closely monitor market developments as they affect the beef, lamb and dairy sectors and strive to improve market opportunities for Irish products.

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