Bord Bia is carrying out its first trade mission to the Gulf region this weekend since the start of Covid-19.
Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue will travel with Bord Bia to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for five days, along with 14 Irish food and drink companies, to launch his new three-year commercial strategy for the region.
Despite market volatility due to Covid-19 on trade, Irish companies’ exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were valued at €155 million last year.
Irish food and drink exports to the wider Middle East market were valued at 311 million euros last year. Exports of dairy products and dairy ingredients amounted to €272 million, while consumer food exports amounted to €21 million.
Bord Bia’s new three-year strategy sets a target of €380 million in Irish food and drink exports to the wider Middle East region by 2025, led by dairy and consumer foods.
Under the plan, Ireland will target exports of over €100 million to Saudi Arabia and €85 million to the United Arab Emirates by 2025.
He said the main objectives of his trade mission are to help create business opportunities for Irish dairy and consumer food exporters in the region.
It also aims to improve government-to-government engagement in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and to strengthen Ireland’s reputation as a trusted supplier and business partner for high-quality food and drink products and sustainably produced.
Bord Bia noted that the UAE continues to be an important market for the premiumisation of Irish beef and during the trade mission they plan to inaugurate a new member of the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club (CIBC) in the Dubai chapter.
CIBC is an exclusive international forum that brings together some of the world’s most prominent chefs who collectively endorse Irish beef.
Ailish Forde, global business development director for Bord Bia, said the Gulf region represents high potential growth opportunities for Irish food and drink producers, a market which values high quality products and where the ireland is renowned for its excellence in producing sustainable products.
Ms Forde said that in a region where up to 80-90% of food is imported, food security remains a key strategic and political priority for the Gulf States.
“Currently, there are 43 million people living in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and by 2050, this figure is expected to increase to 58 million. Population growth has played and will continue to play a significant role in the increase demand for food and food imports,” she said.
“Despite successes in developing domestic food production capacity, these countries will remain largely dependent on imported food. Ireland is uniquely placed to meet this demand and, through Origin Green, can provide the perfect solution. to the growing demands of consumers whose changing eating habits mean they are increasingly aware of the need to buy sustainably produced food,” she added.
Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue said the Food Vision 2030 strategy sets a strong ambition for future growth in the value of Irish agri-food exports to €21 billion from here 2030.
“The Gulf region’s current market dynamics, including high GDP and increased consumer purchasing power, will make it an increasingly important market for our export-oriented food industry,” the minister added. .
Ireland exports to a total of 18 countries in the Middle East – including Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Emirates Arab States and Yemen.