‘Pigmeat sector critically important’- Minister

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney this week outlined that the Department remain committed to the pigmeat sector.

Over the past number of weeks news emanating from the sector has been negative with falling prices and concerns over the impact of Blue Ear/PRRS outbreak.

Speaking this week the Minister said: “I regard the pigmeat sector as a critically important element of the Irish agri food industry and that my Department and its agencies will continue to work with industry to explore new market opportunities and develop the sector to its full potential.”

The Minister outlined that for 2014, the strategic focus of Bord Bia for the pigmeat sector on the home market will be to promote the Quality Mark and the consumption of pork to consumers. He noted that the domestic market remains difficult with consumption coming under pressure.

Key activities envisaged in 2014 are TV and point of sale advertising, Facebook and website activities, digital advertising, PR activities and radio promotions. Pork, ham and bacon with the Quality Mark will also feature in the RTE 1 ‘Home Chef’ series with Neven Maguire starting in mid-January. In total there will be 19 weeks of promotional activity for pork and bacon on the home market throughout 2014.

In terms exports the Minister said the main export markets will remain important in 2014, given the pressures on the home market. In the UK, support will be directed towards projects which can assist processors in identifying and developing business opportunities. In Russia, efforts will be directed towards enhancing relationships with local authorities, to maintain market access and build market and customer contact for Irish exporters through exhibitions such as Prodexpo.

According to the Minister in Asia, similar efforts in building trade links will continue for 2014, working closely with the Chinese Meat Association, and relevant Chinese government agencies.

He said: “In terms of trade development, Bord Bia will host an Irish stand at two trade fairs, Sial China in Shanghai and CIMIE in Beijing, while inward buyer visits from this region will continue to be supported. In addition, with direct market access to Vietnam and Thailand, Bord Bia plans to do a market assessment of the opportunities within these two countries to explore the export opportunities for Irish operators.”

Currently the pigmeat sector is the third largest sector in Irish agriculture in terms of output and exports and a significant contributor to employment and the economy generally.

Approximately 50 per cent of Irish pigmeat is consumed on the home market while exports this year were focussed on the UK, China, Russia, Japan the US and continental Europe.

The Minister cited that: “The growing list of third country markets in which Irish pigmeat is consumed is evidence of my continuing efforts and those of Bord Bia to increase the profile of Irish agri food products worldwide.”

“Indeed there was a welcome new market opportunity with the opening of the Australian market for Irish pigmeat product earlier this year,” he added.