Leading the first trade mission by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, to the Gulf region since the start of the pandemic, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., will visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE next week from 13th to 17th February.
Ireland exports agri-food to over 180 countries worldwide, reaching €13.5 billion in 2021. The industry-led strategy for the growth of the agri-food sector, Food Vision 2030, provides an ambitious and clear roadmap for the sector’s development and increase this value to €21 billion by 2030.
Bord Bia has identified the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as priority markets, accounting for a combined 50 percent of current Irish trade in the Gulf region. In 2021, exports to the Middle East were estimated at €311 million, dominated by dairy, and dairy ingredients worth €272 million, followed by consumer foods at €21 million. Fat-filled milk powder (FFMP) and infant food are the largest categories within dairy, while ice cream, juices, and meal solutions, lead the consumer foods category across the Middle East.
Signifying the importance placed on the region, McConalogue will be accompanied by Ailish Forde, Global Business Development Director of Bord Bia, who will lead a delegation of 14 Irish dairy, meat, and consumer food exporters on the trade mission.
McConalogue said, "Ireland’s Food Vision 2030 strategy sets a strong ambition for future value growth in Irish agri-food exports to €21 billion by 2030. It is based on our premium quality, safe and sustainably produced food products, with family farms as the bedrock of our food system. The current market dynamics of the Gulf region, including strong GDP and increased consumer spending power, will make it an increasingly important market for our export-focused food industry."
On the UAE leg of the trade mission, McConalogue will visit Irish exporters participating in Gulfood, the region’s largest annual food, beverage and hospitality trade fair. Bord Bia has been showcasing leading Irish food and drink brands at Gulfood every year since 2015. The trade mission will also include a visit to Expo 2020 Dubai during its Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods themed week, where the delegation will be part of a series of client seminars and Bord Bia-organised panel discussions held at the Irish Pavilion. During the visit, McConalogue and Forde will also unveil a new chef based in the UAE, joining the UAE chapter of the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club (CIBC), launched in 2017 and the first chapter outside Europe.
On the KSA leg of the trade mission, McConalogue and Forde will meet with Hisham Bin Saad Al-Jadhey, CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and visit Almarai headquarters. It will include the announcement of the Origin Green Ambassador placement into the company. Bord Bia’s Origin Green is the only sustainability programme of its kind in the world that operates on a national scale in uniting the government, the private sector, and food and drink producers.
Tara McCarthy, Chief Executive of Bord Bia, said, "The Middle East region represents a big opportunity for Irish food and drink producers. It is a market that values high-quality products, and where Ireland is recognised for its excellence in producing sustainably produced products. Our new Bord Bia strategy for the Middle East to be announced next week as part of the trade mission will provide a roadmap for our ambitions over the next week to substantially increase Irish exports."
Kieran Fitzgerald is the newly appointed Regional Director of the Middle East, at Bord Bia’s Dubai office.
Source: Emirates News Agency