Food Wise 2025 broadly welcomed by industry

The Government has launched its 10-year strategy for the agri food sector, Food Wise 2025, and plans to increase the value of agri food exports by 85% to €19 billion.

It says it hopes the plan will deliver a further 23,000 jobs in the agri-food sector by 2025.

Food Wise 2025 has been broadly welcomed by those involved in the industry with Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) Chairman Colin Gordon saying it clearly demonstrates how critical the sector is to Ireland’s economic growth and its social fabric.

“It is vital now that every Government department and agency works together to ensure its effective and full implementation.”

This will require the necessary funding and resources for the relevant state bodies and for the various initiatives outlined in the strategy.

The IFA has said that increasing farm family profitability has to be at the centre of the strategy.

IFA President Eddie Downey said that farm profitability is not just about improving efficiencies within the farm gate but also in returning a fair price and margin to farmers for their high quality output.

“Meeting the ambitious target of €19 billion in food exports by 2025 will depend on improved farm profitability. Without better farm incomes, farmers will not increase production to meet these targets,” he said.

The Irish Dairy Industries Association (IDIA) has also welcomed the strategy saying the next phase for the Irish dairy sector is to see an accelerated pipeline of value added product and ingredient development.

IDIA Director Cormac Healy said that the predecessor of the new strategy, Food Harvest 2020, has been an important reference point and compass for the development of the agri food sector in recent years.

“It played a particularly important role in setting out the growth plan for the dairy sector post-quota.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) say it is confident that the ambitious targets of Food Wise 2025 are both realistic and achievable.

Chairman of MII Philip Carroll said that member companies, the processors of beef, pork, lamb and poultry products across the rural economy overwhelmingly accept the challenges and the level of ambition set down in the strategy, which they will pursue with vigour.

“Meat processors will pro-actively engage with the implementation committee to ensure the timely completion of the various action points so that the key growth targets set for the meat sector will be delivered as quickly as possible,” he said.

ICOS President Martin Keane said the vision and emphasis of the report is based on sustainable intensification.

“With the ending of milk quotas, the dairy industry needs to build on our global reputation as a producer of high quality, safe and carbon efficient food.”

This will help the dairy sector to be fully prepared to deal with the extremes of market volatility, which will become an ever present reality into the future.

Teagasc Director Gerry Boyle, said that Food Wise 2025 provides an important roadmap for the future direction of the sector.

“It builds upon the gains realised since the economic crisis in 2009, where the agri-food sector has seen exports grow faster than any of the other main merchandise export sectors.

Teagasc says that opportunities created from the abolition of milk quota in 2015, combined with Ireland’s natural and efficient grass based system allows for the expansion of Ireland’s most profitable agri-food sector, the dairy sector, which is very competitive internationally.

Concern

Birdwatch Ireland however, has said that the potential ecological and environmental footprint of the strategy is a concern.

As well as restoring nature which is in serious decline and addressing our existing carbon footprint, the changes in land-use are all serious challenges for the strategy and for the agri food sector, it said.

Farmers need more supports that support nature, it said.

Producers and processors (the agri food sector) need to take on the responsibility and need the opportunities to address environmental challenges, and add substance to the ambition and claims, it said.

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