Dairy exports from Ireland to China are up 25% on last year – Coveney

Dairy exports from Ireland to China are up 25% on last year, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.

The Minister was speaking after he hosted a major China-Ireland Food Safety Forum in the dairy and infant formula sectors in Co. Kildare.

The event took place at the Department’s complex in Backweston Co. Kildare and was jointly hosted with Chinese Minister Bi Jingquan who is Minister with responsibility for the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).

Infant formula accounts for the majority of trade in the dairy sector, having grown from €81m in 2010 to €300m in 2014, a growth of 270% over the period.

The Minister also said that Ireland’s agri-food exports to China have grown over 270% to €620m in just five years.

“Today is another milestone in Ireland’s growing agri-food partnership with China.

“I was delighted to co-host this event with Minister Bi to mark his visit to Ireland and also to welcome the high-level representatives from the many Irish, Chinese and international companies to exchange ideas on food safety, technology and innovation in the hugely important dairy sector,” he said.

Speaking about Ireland’s agri-food exports to China the Minister said that this is testament to the strong resonance which the reliability and quality Irish products have with Chinese consumers because we know that they are expecting the best.

Ireland’s international reputation depends on its meeting the highest expectations of consumers, and as a matter of Government policy, we are committed to strong and effective regulation.

“Added to the reputation for food safety is, of course our growing reputation for sustainability in dairy production and these two factors combined are the bedrock on which our exports are based,” he said.

The forum is the flagship event during Minister Bi’s three-day visit to Ireland during which he is accompanied by a range of top-level Chinese industry representatives.

On Sunday, Minister Bi also had the opportunity to visit a dairy farm in Co. Wicklow to learn more about production in Ireland before visiting the Danone plant in Co. Wexford which is one of Ireland’s largest producers of baby and infant food products.

Later today (Monday) Minister Bi will also visit Kerry Group’s new flagship Technology and Innovation Centre in Naas, Co. Kildare while Bord Bia will host a parallel seminar on Irish dairy production for industry representatives.

Agri-food partnership

The event this morning was preceded by a ceremony to mark the signing by both Ministers of a Memorandum of Understanding setting out future cooperation between both countries in the area of food safety.

Minister Coveney said that this MOU signifies that our agri-food partnership with China is about much more than trade and includes exchanges of ideas and knowledge on areas of mutual interest.

“I was delighted to formalise this relationship between my Department and CFDA this morning and am certain that both organisations will gain substantially from the cooperation.

“In many ways, it mirrors the many partnerships between leading Irish and Chinese agri-food companies and together marks the basis for a sustainable and long-term strategic relationship between both countries,” he said.

Minister Bi’s visit to Ireland continues on Tuesday when he will have a bilateral meeting with the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar to discuss regulatory systems in the medical devices and pharmaceutical sectors as well as visiting leading companies in this area.