Bord Bia today announced its plans to open an office in Dubai to support the Irish food and drink industry’s efforts to double exports to the Middle East by 2020.

While Bord Bia has worked with local resources for a number of years, and more recently placed three of its marketing fellows in the region, this marks a significant move as the organisation plans to intensify marketing and promotional activity to support continued growth.

The announcement was made on the second day of the on-going trade mission to the Middle East, being led by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD. Some 60 Irish delegates are participating, representing in excess of 30 Irish food, drink and agri-service companies.

In 2012 Irish food and drink exports to the Middle East were valued at €275 million, with the Gulf States (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain) accounting for 70% or €192 million. Bord Bia estimates Irish food and drink exports to the Middle East could double to exceed €500 million this decade. The new office, which is likely to be located alongside other Irish development agencies based in the market, will focus on Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Gulf States in addition to monitoring potential opportunities in Iran, Iraq and Jordan.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi today, Bord Bia Chief Executive Aidan Cotter said: “Over the past three years, our resources and extensive market research in the Middle East has pointed to significant growth and new business opportunities for Irish food and drink exporters. Our strategy for the market is focused on delivering on the potential to increase dairy and dairy ingredient exports to the Gulf region; on broadening market access for the Irish beef and sheepmeat industry and in securing premium positioning for Irish food through high-end retail and foodservice customers.

“This new office will provide a practical solution for Irish companies seeking to enter the market by providing access to market knowledge, insight and research.”

The office will open in January 2014.