Ministers meet Bord Bia to discuss market development plans for 2021

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Martin Heydon met with Bord Bia to examine plans for market development for Irish food and drink over the course of 2021.

In what is the first in a series of quarterly meetings, the meeting took place virtually today (Wednesday, February 10) between Minister McConalogue, Minister of State Heydon and Dan McSweeney, Bord Bia chair, with Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia CEO.

The meeting discussed Bord Bia’s activity for 2021 including new market development priorities, import substitution opportunities, operating in the post-Brexit world, and customer and farmer engagement.

Commenting, Minister McConalogue said: “I look forward to ongoing close engagement with Bord Bia this year.

Total agri-food exports last year, at €14.3 billion, only marginally down on 2019, reflect a strong performance by our food and drink industry, supported by Bord Bia, considering the challenges posed by Covid-19 and Brexit.

Highlighting a shared focus to do all possible to “deliver for primary and secondary producers”, the minister said: “We must always be focussed on being relevant and innovative in order to deliver for everyone in the supply chain.

“Agri-food is our largest indigenous sector and is critical to balanced economic development.

“I am delighted that Dan MacSweeney has agreed to stay on for a second term as chair of Bord Bia, having first been appointed to this role in 2018.

“Dan brings a huge depth of experience and enthusiasm to the role of chair, and those qualities are more important than ever in leading the Bord Bia Board in the current online format.”

Minister of State Heydon also commented, adding: “Having special responsibility for new market development, I am delighted to have the opportunity to engage with Bord Bia on planning for the year ahead.

We will continue to work together to provide proof to our trade customers and consumers, wherever they may be, that Irish food meets the highest standards of food safety, sustainability and welfare, and equally we need to communicate feedback and insights from the market back to our farmers.

“There are ongoing uncertainties facing us in the context of Brexit and the continued Covid-19 global pandemic, but as a sector we have shown ourselves to be resilient in dealing with the challenges and building on opportunities,” Minister Heydon said.