Pork and beef produced in Northern Ireland will soon be served on plates in India and Canada as the North has begun trading with these two markets.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) established the markets in 2015.

Minister Michelle O’Neill said that the North secured an agreement with the Indian authorities to export its high-quality pork and that the first shipment arrived in port at the end of December.

“Our beef sector is also preparing to trade with the newly opened Canadian market.

“India is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world while accessing the established Canadian market is of great importance to our beef exporters.”

O’Neill said that entering these new important markets marks a great start to exports in 2016.

“I am delighted that industry is taking advantage of these important opportunities we have been able to secure.”

I anticipate that this trend will continue and I expect further uplifts in exports when final approval to export pork to China is secured.

“In order to build on the successes to date, we are working closely with the industry to ensure readiness for inward inspections to access the US and Philippine markets for beef and Australia for pork.

“I am also hoping that negotiations will advance this year on extending our export agreements with China to cover poultry meat and beef.

“I, and my officials, continue to work closely with our vital agri-food industry going forward to meet the requirements to export and identify further priority markets.”

Minister O’Neill said that accessing new markets for agri-food exports from the North remains one of her key priorities.

“Trading with new countries, I hope, will also help to mitigate the negative impacts of price volatility and exchange rate fluctuations our industry has faced.”