Learning future Asian food demand ‘vital’ for Irish export success

Considerable opportunities are available for the Irish agri-food industry in meeting future food supply demands in Asia as the sector gears up to achieve targets of doubling agri exports globally by 2025.

“The Strategic Importance of Asia for Ireland’s Agri-food Sector”, a report compiled by Asia Matters and KPMG, looks at current exporting trends from Ireland to Asia and future opportunities.

The report – released yesterday (Monday, December 17) – examines the conditions needed for Ireland to remain competitive and practical advice for businesses seeking to establish or expand their presence in Asia.

Asian opportunities

According to the report, as Asian countries advance to become the foremost consumers of global food supply, Irish businesses across agriculture, food and beverage, fisheries and fish processing industries have a unique opportunity to leverage competitive advantages.

Such advantages include Ireland’s reputable quality assurance regimes, world-class research capabilities, human capital and positive trading relationships to gain further foothold in Asia.

The report outlines priorities for Ireland’s agri-food export sector to expand its position as a global supplier in satisfying the demand for quality, safe and nutritious food to rapidly-growing consumer middle classes in Asia.

These include:
  • Consistently delivering world-class biosecurity;
  • Further developing awareness of ‘green’ brand in Asian countries;
  • Prioritising sustainable food production;
  • Signing high-quality trade agreements with Asian customers;
  • Articulating a collective industry vision;
  • Investing time and resources in understanding Asian consumer trends.

Addressing the scale of the opportunity for Irish businesses, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said:

“Our agri-food sector is heavily export focused – we are a country of over five million that produces enough food to feed over 50 million people.

There is huge potential for the development of new markets for Irish agri-food exports in Asia.

Alan Dukes, chairman of Asia Matters and former minister for agriculture, added: “Understanding the future Asian demand for food is vital if Ireland is to succeed in the rapidly evolving Asian markets.

“Ireland is well positioned to achieve ambitious targets of almost doubling agri exports by 2025.”

Competitiveness

Head of agri-business with KPMG in Ireland, David Meagher, reiterated the importance of Ireland’s competitiveness globally amid ongoing regulatory, geographical and sustainability challenges.

He explained: “We know that Asian demand is on the rise, and that Ireland produces very high-quality food but, to capitalise on the opportunity amid common global trading challenges, we must excel in developing trusting relationships with trading partners and deepening our understanding of Asian consumers.”

The report also includes specific sector insights on dairy, meat, seafood and chocolate confectionery and insights from industry leaders: Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia; Jason Hawkins, CEO, Carbery Group; and Sean Ryan, general manager, Ornua Asia.