Bord Bia along with 27 Irish food exporting companies will fly the flag for Irish produce at the world’s biggest food fair in Paris this week.

A record number of Irish exporters have travelled to the Salon International d’Alimentation (SIAL) food fair with a view to develop new business opportunities along with maintaining existing trading relationships.

According to Bord Bia, the Irish group will join 160,000 food buyers and 7,000 exhibitors for the biennial event which takes place from October 16-20. The event will also be attended by buyers and exhibitors from over 100 countries.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, will visit the exhibition today (October 17) in a bid to support Irish exporters.

Speaking prior to his departure for Paris, Minister Creed highlighted the importance of market diversification in meeting the targets set out in the industry’s Food Wise 2025 strategy.

Over recent years the Irish food and drink industry has successfully extended its market reach with the share of exports going to international markets growing from 21% to 28% over the last six years.

“Diversification has also been key to increasing these exports even in the face of trading challenges such as the closure of the Russian market to beef, pigmeat and dairy products.

“Today companies, especially those heavily dependent on the UK market, are looking further afield and the record attendance of Irish exporters at this year’s SIAL, up one-third on 2014, is proof that they have identified the challenges around Brexit and are actively looking at other routes to market where necessary,” he said.

The Minister also spoke about the additional €2m allocation for market development measures to assist Bord Bia in staying on track to meet Ireland’s 2025 targets by supporting companies in holding their positions in existing markets.

Bord Bia’s CEO Aidan Cotter also said that maintaining status quo will not be sufficient to deliver the results necessary to increase Irish exports value to €19 billion by 2025.

“Our key markets in the European Union (EU) and new and established international markets will have to deliver more than incremental growth.

“We took account of this in framing our strategy document, ‘Making a World of Difference’, which is our new reference point for growing the value of our exports in what are now even challenging times.

“Our initiatives in the period ahead will be informed by consumer insight, enabled by valued people and infrastructure, underpinned by Origin Green, realised by effective routes to market and supported by strong brand communications,” he said.

Cotter also pointed out the the first important steps in implementing these goals has been helped by the opening of the Thinking House in Dublin and two regional offices in Singapore and Warsaw.

We will apply these principles in how we support companies affected by the recent volatility brought on by the UK referendum result on membership of the EU.

“Our presence at SIAL and other international trade events is part of our ‘routes to market’ pillar and will provide us with insight into new trends in food production and an opportunity to explain Ireland’s unique offering in supplying safe secure and sustainably produced food,” he said.