Creed secures enhanced access for Irish beef to Saudi Arabia

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed this morning announced an agreement on enhanced access for Irish beef to Saudi Arabia.

The enhanced agreement will see the range of beef exported from Ireland to Saudi Arabia extended to processed, cooked, minced and bone-in beef products.

Saudi Arabia has grown to be an important market for the Irish agri-food sector and in 2016 Irish agri-food exports were valued at €136m.

The announcement was made on the first day of the Irish agri-food Trade Mission to the Gulf region.

This agreement follows high level discussions this afternoon between Minister Creed and Prof. Dr Hisham Saad Aljadhey, the Executive President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), which is the competent authority in Saudi Arabia for market access matters.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Creed said, “I was delighted to secure today’s agreement after discussions with Prof. Dr Hisham Saad Aljadhey.

This agreement will make a difference to Irish companies wishing to export beef to Saudi Arabia, by adding processed, cooked, minced and bone-in beef to the products that can be exported to Saudi Arabia.

“This is testament to the high regard in which Irish beef is held here and marks the culmination of intensive work by my Department, our Embassy here in Riyadh and the industry over recent months.

Minister Michael Creed and Prof. Dr Hisham Saad Aljadhey, the Executive President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA)
Minister Michael Creed and Prof. Dr Hisham Saad Aljadhey, the Executive President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA)

“Last year Ireland exported some €2.4 billion worth of beef to around 70 countries.

“I am very cognisant of the need both to expand the number of beef markets but also to enhance existing market access given our current exposure to the UK beef market.

“Minced, processed and cooked beef, are all potentially valuable products and we want to develop export opportunities for them, in addition to intact cuts of beef.

The Minister also discussed a number of technical certification issues of interest to the dairy and other sectors, and both sides agreed that the process for Irish sheepmeat access should commence, and arrangements are being made to follow up on the necessary technical steps.

Minister Creed and his delegation, including representatives from his Department, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and the SFSI, also met his counterpart HE Eng. Abdulrahman A. Alfadley to discuss a number of potential areas for mutual cooperation in the agri-food sector.

Minister Alfadley was formerly CEO of Almarai a major Saudi dairy company with close historical ties to Ireland.

The Minister also met with CEO of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Company (SALIC), a state owned agri-investment company with a mission to secure long term food supplies for Saudi Arabia through investment and supply contracts.

Minister Creed invited the CEO of SALIC to Ireland for further discussions.

This was followed by the launching of Green Isle Foods Goodfellas pizza range at Danube, one of the largest Saudi retail outlets.

Green Isle Foods is Irelands’ largest frozen food manufacturing company and exports its products to over 30 countries worldwide.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Creed said; “I am delighted to have launched a branded Irish product on Saudi retail shelves.”

“Green Isle Foods is a perfect example of an Irish prepared consumer foods company doing business all over the globe”.

Later that evening the Minister also delivered a speech to attended guests at a reception in Embassy of Ireland Riyadh, hosted by Ambassador Tony Cotter, where he outlined Irelands Origin Green programme and our unique offering of safe, sustainably produced quality food.

“Last year Saudi Arabia was the third largest non-EU destination for Irish agri-food exports, only behind China and the USA,” the Minister said.

Total Agri food exports to Saudi Arabia increased from €92m in 2013 to €136m in 2016, representing an increase of almost 50% over the course of only three years.

“It was a pleasure to meet my counterpart this morning in Riyadh, His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli and to have the opportunity to highlight the role of Ireland as a producer of safe, high quality and sustainably produced Irish food and drink.

“This is a rapidly expanding market place and Ireland wants to be part of that,” he said.

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