Medium-term prospects for global dairy markets are good, with growth in world population and wealth expected to stimulate strong levels of demand for dairy products, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

He addressed the topic of dairy markets in the Dail recently. He outlined that more than 85% of Irish dairy production is exported and Ireland has full market access to over eighty countries worldwide, with one third of the value of dairy exports going outside the EU.

“I am working with industry to raise the profile of the Irish dairy sector, and the Irish agri-food sector generally, in emerging markets in the Far East, North Africa, the Gulf States and elsewhere,” he commented.

“Ireland strongly supported the decision to abolish milk quotas with effect from April 1, 2015, on the basis that quotas were widely regarded by both the Irish dairy sector and market analysts as a brake on the potential of the sector to respond positively to market opportunities.”

Minister Coveney noted: “I expect the abolition of quotas to facilitate an expansion in the sector and through the Food Harvest 2020 Report the industry has set itself an ambitious target for a 50% increase in milk production by 2020. For my part, I have been working on a number of fronts to prepare the industry for the move to a quota free environment and equip it to respond to the market opportunities arising.”

He added: “Of course, the industry itself has a responsibility to focus its efforts on market and product development. Supported by Government, the Irish dairy sector has succeeded in positioning itself as a major international player and we have seen industry announcements in relation to the development of supply arrangements between Irish companies and multinational players in third countries as well as the development of value-added products which can maximise the value of our dairy output.”

The Minister concluded: “In that context, last week the Chinese authorities announced results of an audit of Ireland’s dairy sector, which means that Irish plants have been found to fully meet the standards of China’s new food safety laws. This approval will allow the Irish dairy sector to build on their formidable reputation in international markets, and in the increasingly important Chinese market, and to further capitalise on Ireland’s reputation for green, efficient, high quality dairy production.”