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Written Answers - Food Industry

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 201.  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 total number of persons currently employed in the mushroom growing industry here; the extent to which employment in the sector and fluctuated in the past four years and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7464/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Department’s and Bord Bia’s best estimate of those employed in the Irish mushroom industry including growing, marketing and mushroom compost manufacture is the equivalent of over 2,500 full time jobs. Almost 90% of those employed are involved in production of the crop. As the mushroom industry has become more concentrated, and with fewer growers involved in pro[198]duction, the numbers of part- time workers has declined over the years. Numbers employed in the industry have been relatively static over the past four years. The estimate of those employed in the mushroom industry in 2007 was over 2,400. The output from the mushroom industry showed a marginal increase in 2011. Irish mushroom exports increased by 2% in 2011 arising from better consumer demand in the UK. This was partly due to the EU/ Industry co-funded three year mushroom promotion campaign on the UK market, which started in 2011. The medium term prospect for the industry continues to be positive but is still very much influenced by the Sterling-Euro exchange rate.

 202.  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  if it is possible to maximise job opportunities arising from the value-added processing of all food and food products in the dairy, meat, fish and poultry sectors with particular reference to addressing issues arising from the downturn in the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7465/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The establishment of a positive economic environment in order to facilitate job creation is one of the key objectives of this Government. Following last November’s Government’s Decision to progress an annual Action Plan for Jobs, my Department and its State Bodies have been actively involved in this exercise. Consequently, I expect that the 2012 Action Plan will be announced shortly and will include a specific section outlining the ways in which the agri-food sector will contribute to the overall job target.

This Action Plan links in with the Food Harvest 2020 report which set itself a target of increasing the value added of the agri-food and fisheries sector by €3 billion by 2020. I am particularly confident that there will be increased employment in dairy processing, the seafood and aquaculture industry and in the SMEs and micro industries. Overall, I plan to ensure that the concerted Government focus on jobs will underpin the current employment levels of 135,000, achieve a net gain of 7,500 in food and beverage companies while at the same time augmenting the equally important indirect employment impact.


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