A record 21 Irish companies are in Paris at the biennial food trade show SIAL this week.

According to Bord Bia, the strength of the Irish presence at SIAL continues to grow, with a 40% increase in Irish companies exhibiting this year compared to 2012. The majority of the participating companies will be based at the Origin Green pavilions which will be managed and coordinated by Bord Bia.

Sustainability is a key theme of this year`s event. SIAL has acknowledged the green credentials of every Irish firm exhibiting with a listing on the SIAL tour guide for buyers seeking suppliers of sustainably produced food.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney and Bord Bia hosted a trade reception at Ireland`s ‘Origin Green’ pavilions to provide additional networking opportunities for Irish exhibitors. Later this week, Bord Bia will also organise a market study visit to leading French retailers for non-exhibiting Irish companies visiting SIAL.

The Minister said that 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s participation at SIAL, a major trade event and business development platform for Irish food exporters.

“As a truly international trade showcase, SIAL recognises the need for sustainable food production to meet the demands and aspirations of a growing world population. We could not have a better venue at which to re-inforce our ‘Origin Green’ initiative to a global audience. The Irish food and beverage industry has embraced the concept and now we aim to intensify our engagement with international consumers to demonstrate its effectiveness. Origin Green can leverage new business opportunities with international customers.”

Michael Carey, Chairman, Bord Bia said that this year`s sustainability theme will further enhance Ireland`s image in France. “A recent study carried out for Bord Bia among French respondents showed that 63% acknowledged Ireland`s engagement in sustainable production, a further 77% stated that Irish food was authentic and 86% vouched for its quality. This is an important acknowledgement in a country which remains Ireland’s largest global market for lamb and seafood, second largest for beef and whiskey. The first six months of 2014 show continued growth in exports to France with an increase of 10% in value versus same period the previous year.”

Irish food and beverage exports to France in 2013 amounted to €673 million, an increase of 14% since 2012 against a backdrop of a 10% increase globally.

SIAL is one of the world’s largest food trade fairs and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Over 150,000 international visitors will attend the event, 63% of whom will come from outside France.