Recent months have seen a strong recovery in the value of Irish food and drink exports, helped by an improving exchange rate, increased meat export volumes, and a stronger export performance in the beverage, dairy and seafood sectors, according to Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter.
The news was welcomed this week by Mayo TD and Minister for State Dara Calleary, who said it was “very encouraging news for Irish farmers”.
“The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Brendan Smith has been very clear promoting Irish food and drink and increasing the export markets and as there is huge potential to increase this market I am confident that the Minister will continue to develop and expand our exports. This will help to safeguard and create jobs in the Irish food industry, but it is also essential for Irish farmers in the first instance,” concluded Minister Calleary.
During the first five months of 2010, the value of exports was more than eight per cent higher than a year earlier at almost €3bn.
Also this week however, Jim Higgins, MEP for Ireland North West reported being ‘deeply embarrassed’ by Ireland's "No show” at an International Food Fair, in front of the European Parliament, involving all 27 EU states.
“The food fair was an exhibition of the traditional foods of the different European countries, where various foods and beverages were freely available to the general public, including high level members of the EU institutions, as a way of advertising the food offering of the various countries.
"My Irish colleagues and I were deeply embarrassed that having toured the different stalls from tiny Malta and Cyprus across to Germany, every stall proudly proclaimed its food produce to the large crowds who sampled same. Unfortunately the only stall that had no food or national representatives was a bare Irish stall with only a table cloth, a plastic tricolour and an empty bottle of Murphy's stout."
"My office contacted the event's organiser only to be told that because of the cut backs in Ireland, the country was not in a position to participate in the event. This was an ideal opportunity to showcase Irish food which was wasted.
"It is appalling, that at a time when we are pumping billions into a toxic bank that the government could not fork out even €100 to attract valuable business to our shores".”