‘Government needs to support growth and job creation in agri-food sector’

The Irish Government needs to implement policies that support growth and job creation in the agri-food economy this year, Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) says.

FDII, the Ibec group that represents the food sector has published its ‘Policy priorities for the food and drink sector 2015’ which sets out the policies Government needs to implement to support growth and job creation in the agri-food economy this year.

FDII Director Paul Kelly said that exports have surpassed €10 billion and a new national 2025 strategy is being developed to build on Food Harvest 2020.

“This will reflect the opportunities and challenges that arise from the removal of milk quotas, the re-opening of international markets, future bi-lateral trade deals, increased volatility, increased supply chain consolidation and changing consumer preferences.

“Our food and drink industry is well placed to exploit these developments and national policy must continue to support the measures necessary for investment, market access, expansion and volume growth in the agri-food sector,” he said.

This requires effective implementation of agri-food policy across Government to enable the industry to achieve its full growth potential and continue to deliver a strong jobs dividend.

Kelly said that key to this is a manufacturing base that is cost competitive and efficient.

He said that this requires improved access to finance to support productivity improvements and capacity expansion, lower energy and waste charges as well as a continued focus on investing in innovation and skills development.

“Government policies on issues such as sustainability measures, primary production competitiveness, grocery sector legislation implementation and free trade agreements must be aligned with industry needs.

“There must also be an acknowledgement of and support for the role that the food and drink industry can play in multi-stakeholder health and nutrition initiatives,” he said.

Kelly said that the agri-food sector is more deeply embedded in all regions of the Irish economy than any other manufacturing sector with 76% of its materials and 55% of its services purchased in Ireland and has the largest payroll of any manufacturing sector with 230,000 jobs linked to the sector.

“Export growth in food and drink has a bigger impact on the wider economy that the rest of manufacturing,” he said.

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