‘Diversification of agri-food’ to be main outcome of €100 million support

Diversification and added value for Irish agri-food is set to be the main outcome for the €100 million Brexit support for the food processing sector, according to Dairy Industry Ireland (DII).

DII said the support scheme will “help continue drive the ongoing step change in investment of the industry as it looks to further diversify and drive up the value chain for the benefit of all stakeholders”.

The new €100 million scheme for the food processing sector was announced yesterday (Monday, December 28), due to its exposure to the impact of Brexit.

The capital investment scheme for the processing and marketing of agricultural products will be managed by Enterprise Ireland and will open for applications in January.

DII noted that even with a EU-UK trade deal agreed, the fact that one of Ireland’s largest export markets will be outside the EU customs union and single market from January 1 will bring new administrative burdens and costs.

According to DII’s own economic analysis, the deal that has been arrived at will result in a 1.58c/L extra cost to the 2 billion litres of milk used in the cheddar industry, which is particularly dependent on the UK market.

“Ireland’s diversification strategy has been developing well in advance of Brexit. These have accelerated since the 2016 referendum with investments very focused on international cheeses and specialised nutrition,” remarked Conor Mulvihill, director of DII.

This announcement by the Tánaiste [Leo Varadkar] Minister [for Agriculture, Food and the Marine] Charlie McConalogue will continue to help us mitigate the worst effects of Brexit while looking to the future, and further underpin the globally competitive nature of the Irish dairy and specialised nutrition industry.

Mulvihill also called on the the Tánaiste to progress a DII request to open an Export Credit Insurance scheme to help companies “aggressively seek new markets”.

He pointed out that Ireland is an “outlier” in the EU, with no state scheme for this purpose.