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Written Answers - Food Industry

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 196.  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 markets currently showing great potential for growth at EU or worldwide level for Irish dairy products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7458/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Exports of dairy products in 2011 were valued at €2.66 billion, which is an increase of 17% on the previous year. [195] Ireland already has access to markets worldwide and exports dairy products to over eighty countries. Nonetheless I am working with industry to raise the profile of the Irish dairy sector, and the Irish agri-food sector generally in emerging markets.

I have been very active 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 to lead a trade mission to China in spring to further develop this critical and important relationship, and to meet my ministerial counterparts in the Agriculture and Quarantine Ministries to help raise the profile of the Irish agri-food sector in China.

I also visited Algeria in 2011 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 in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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.

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