China to become Ireland’s next billion euro food and drink market

China will become the first billion euro market for Irish food and drink exports outside of the UK within the next three years, according to Bord Bia CEO, Aidan Cotter.

Cotter made the remarks as Bord Bia announced the opening of a second office in the region.

With its Shanghai hub serving the Chinese market, a new base in Singapore will now focus on the South and East Asian countries of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Korea.

Bord Bia recently recruited Sligoman, Ciarán Gallagher, to head up the office in Singapore, who has spent the last four years working for Glanbia Nutritionals Ingredient Technologies in China.

Cotter said that given that Irish food and drink exports to China have grown tenfold in ten years to reach €654m, Bord Bia is confident China will be a €1 billion market in the next three years.

China is currently our second largest market for pork and dairy, while it remains a valuable and increasingly important market destination for Irish seafood.

Earlier this week, Bord Bia launched a major new digital campaign to directly promote Irish dairy products to China’s online shoppers and influencers; the first consumer-facing campaign undertaken by Bord Bia in China.

In its initial phase, it is expected to reach in excess of 33m Chinese consumers through a series of online ads, promotions and targeted blogger engagement.

Bord Bia carried out extensive research in the market ahead of the campaign launch. This included over 300 hours of in-field research across three cities, 14 brand clinics, 36 stores and 48 homes to monitor Chinese consumers’ eating and shopping habits.

The growth potential of South-East Asia for food and drink exports had been identified by Bord Bia and Irish companies alike in recent years.

To effectively leverage the opportunity, Bord Bia has now established a second office in the region that will help build business for Irish exporting companies, particularly dairy, meat and seafood.

With its relatively small population, Singapore is currently one of the largest importers of Irish food and drink in the region and Bord Bia has said that it also boasts a large manufacturing base and a significant trading influence in the region.

Speaking in Singapore this weekend, the Minister of Agriculture, Michael Creed, said the opening of the office was testament to the government’s ambition to meet the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020 and FoodWise 2025 to grow the Irish food exports.

“From here Bord Bia will have its finger on the pulse of the Asian economy and the office will be the launch-pad for Irish food and drink exporters to explore new opportunities in the region.

“I believe the investment will pay handsome dividends in the coming years as Bord Bia builds new contacts, gathers market insight and assists companies find new customers,” he said.

Meanwhile Aidan Cotter said that the opening of Bord Bia’s new office in Singapore represents the industry’s ambition for the South-East Asia market.

With a growing economy and a steadily-increasing population that currently stands at 600m, the region offers huge growth potential at a time when our food and drink industry drives forward to realise its ambition of increasing exports by 85%.

“Exports to Singapore itself have been growing steadily since 2010; from €21m then to almost €33m in 2014. While growth was dominated by dairy, beverages and pigmeat, the range of products extends to prepared foods, seafood and sheepmeat.”

“With a population of 5.5m and a land size of 719 sq. kilometres, Singapore is smaller than Co. Louth.

“However, it has a population density over five times that of Co. Dublin. Furthermore, a GDP per capita of approximately €49,000 makes it the richest in the region and an ideal customer profile for premium, high quality Irish food and drink exports.”