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300 Leading Experts Meet at the First UK-Ireland Food Business Innovation Summit

Potential for closer co-operation between UK and Ireland in Agri-food Sector

The first ever UK-Ireland Food Business Innovation Summit and Exhibition is taking place in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, today, Wednesday 29th May 2013. The event themed ‘Exploiting synergies for growth through innovation, research, skills and knowledge’ is bringing together over 300 leading UK and Irish food company executives and retailers, along with policy makers and research managers. This one day summit is discussing the key opportunities that exist for innovation in the food sector and the considerable potential for closer co-operation in the agri-food sector.

Two keynote addresses are being given by the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD and the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon. Owen Paterson, MP.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said: “This summit provides a wonderful opportunity for food company executives, retailers, and research managers from both sides of the Irish Sea to come together in order to debate the key challenges in research, skills and knowledge and the opportunities for innovation in the food sector. A key theme of this event is innovation and it is something I am deeply interested in. We see the agri-food sector as a driver of sustainable growth in the economy. Long term demand for premium quality, safe food products is increasing. The ending of EU milk quotas provides an opportunity to realise the food industry’s potential in a way that up to now was only open to non-EU players. There is great scope for Ireland and the UK to work closely together, building on the linkages that currently exist, so as to exploit the opportunities and overcome the challenges.”

Secretary of State, Owen Paterson said; "This Summit and this sector have a key role to play in helping us unlock the huge potential that exists for the UK and Irish economies - economies that already benefit from a flow of people, goods and ideas. I want to work towards a plant and animal health biosecurity regime for both these islands, as part of our shared determination to strengthen our food and drink industries. By working together we can maximise the benefits to the food and drink industry in the UK and Ireland.”

The summit has been jointly organised by Teagasc and the Institute of Food Research (IFR), UK and supported by Food Innovation Gateways, British Irish Chamber of Commerce, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland. Delegates were welcomed by Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland and Professor David Boxer, Director of the Institute of Food Research, Norwich UK.

Today’s summit will set the groundwork for a new era of collaboration across the two islands and help increase growth and competitiveness by reinforcing our innovation capacity and helping towards the development of a wider European focus on innovation. This could include food research collaborations, working together on education programmes, and business innovation supports. Workshops at today’s summit will address three themes;

  • People entrepreneurships and skills for a growing food industry
  • Global food innovation for economic impact
  • Research, innovation and business opportunities to shorten the food chain and reduce waste

A series of presentations by leading UK and Irish food company chief executives and senior managers are focusing on issues such as food security, reducing waste, the growing world population, emerging markets and shortening the food chain.

Both countries share a common objective of making the sector more productive and competitive. Food and drink exports underpin the relationship between the UK and Ireland. In 2012, 42% of Irish food and drink exports, worth €3.8 billion were consumed in the UK. The market accounted for over 52% of total Irish beef exports and 36% of dairy products and ingredient exports in 2012. The flow of trade is two way. The value of food exports from the UK to Ireland is in the region of £3 billion stg per annum.