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Coveney Launches Milestones for Success 2014


The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has launched Milestones for Success 2014 to highlight the headline growth and achievements of the Food Harvest 2020 report. This report reviews the progress achieved over the past four years and provides facts, figures, analysis and examples to illustrate how the overall agri-food sector has moved from a downward spiral in 2009 to its current position as a key driver of economic growth.

At the launch, Minister Coveney said, “This is a growth sector with ambition and promise and more importantly promise on which it is delivering. We set ourselves stretch targets, to grow the value of our exports and value-added production by 40% by 2020. We are well on our way, as since Food Harvest was published in 2010, their value has risen by 24% and 23% respectively”.

Presenting Milestones for Success 2014, the Minister pointed out that the agri-food industry is enjoying a period of strong success. Food and drink companies currently account for a 30% share of the ISEQ index and achieved exports sales of €10.3 billion in 2013, up from the baseline figure of €6.05 billion. The value of primary output has also risen sharply and at the end of 2013 was €6.183 billion, which means it has virtually reached the 33% target set by Food Harvest.

“This sector’s ambition is fueling investment, employment and success”. Industry leaders, assisted by Ministerial trade missions, and state enterprise agencies, have been making strategic capital and capability investments in growth areas such as dairy, whiskey and processed foods. In the dairy and whiskey industries alone, investment plans of up to €600 million are being actively pursued by industry leaders, while in 2013, Enterprise Ireland invested €203 million in capacity, innovation and equity ventures to allow agri-food companies become more agile in order to secure export sales on global markets.

Speaking on global markets, Minister Coveney reiterated “I have strong personal experience of the impact which Trade and Investment Missions make in extending market reach and in marketing Ireland as a responsive, sustainable producer of quality food products which appeal to consumers”. Milestones for Success 2014 devotes a section to this aspect and illustrates how the focused inter-agency approach to reaching out to strategic markets and building valuable networks and contacts in these countries, is reaping dividends, “China is now our 6th largest export market, agri-food exports to China have trebled in the past three years while significant capacity is being built in the Middle East”.

The Minister noted the tremendous turnaround in employment levels, particularly in the food sector. In the decade leading up to Food Harvest, employment in that sector fell by 1,500 but the last four years has seen the number of jobs generated rise by about 4,000. As emphasised by the series of Action Plans for Jobs, “employment growth is this Government’s top priority and I’m heartened that the implementation of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy, which my Department, along with the relevant state agencies is actively leading, is assisting more and more of our citizens to gain and maintain jobs. That remains a key focus for me".

The clear evidence is that Food Harvest 2020 vision has been a notable success for both the sector and the economy. That being said, I am aware that we are on the cusp of a step change in the industry and that there will be many challenges to be met, on beef and elsewhere, as we deal with the constantly changing policy environment. However, I am very confident that the capability, confidence and determination, consistently shown by the sector, will help provide effective solutions to issues arising”.

The thematic focus of Food Harvest 2020 revolved around Smart, Green, Growth. This current progress report takes up these key themes again and uses case studies and other examples to illustrate how Government, State Agencies, industry, farmers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders are actively collaborating on improving competitiveness, extending market reach, developing innovative products and processes and on delivering growth and enterprise solutions to realise the aspirations, visions and targets of Food Harvest 2020.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, launching Milestones for Success 2014 to highlight the headline growth and achievements of the Food Harvest 2020 report. This report reviews the progress achieved over the past four years and provides facts, figures, analysis and examples to illustrate how the overall agri-food sector has moved from a downward spiral in 2009 to its current position as a key driver of economic growth.

With Minister Coveney is Ann Derwin (Economics & Planning Division, DAFM) Aidan Cotter (An Bord Bia CEO) Michael Cantwell (Enterprise Ireland) Lynn Broderick (Economics & Planning Division, DAFM) and Prof. Gerry Boyle (Director,Teagasc)