The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed T.D. this week leads an agri-food trade mission to Japan and the Republic of Korea. Both countries have been prioritised as markets with significant growth opportunities for Irish food and drink exports.
Commenting, Minister Creed stated: ‘‘I am delighted to lead my second trade mission to Japan and the Republic of Korea which will strengthen and build ties between Ireland and these two countries in relation to agri-food. Trade Missions help to build the Government-to-Government and business-to-business relationships which can make a real difference to Irish food and drink exporters. This work is critically important against the backdrop of Brexit”.
Total agri-food exports to Japan in 2018 amounted to €115 million, double the level of exports in 2016, according to CSO trade statistics (which include non-edible exports such as forestry as well as food and drinks). Last year, pigmeat exports to Japan amounted to €41 million; while dairy products, mainly cheddar cheese, amounted to €40 million. Fish (€14 million) and beverages (€8 million) are other important export categories.
Beef exports to Japan amounted to €3.6 million last year. Last month’s announcement by Japanese authorities of the removal of the restriction on exports of beef from animals over 30 months, following detailed technical exchanges and an audit visit, offers opportunities for further growth.
Minister Creed added: “Government to Government meetings in Japan will focus on furthering Ireland’s application for market access for sheepmeat, as well as exploring the opportunities for both countries arising from the comprehensive EU/Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA). 2019 is particularly important year for the Irish-Japanese relationship, with thousands of Irish Rugby supporters visiting the country for the Rugby World Cup in the autumn. Ireland play Japan in the group stages ensuring that awareness of Ireland will be at a peak allowing us the opportunity to highlight all Ireland has to offer from a food, tourism and trade perspective.”
Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea is already a significant importer of Irish produce with exports in 2018 amounting to €36 million. Pigmeat and fish were the main export categories.
Minister Creed stated that ‘‘I want to further develop Ireland’s profile as a producer of safe quality food for the valuable Korean market. Government to Government meetings will focus on progressing the next steps in achieving market access for beef and poultry meat’’.
Speaking in advance of the visit Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said: “We are increasing Bord Bia’s resources in Japan and South Korea to leverage opportunities for Irish exporters and producers to build their market share. Our market and consumer insights convinces us that sustainably produced Irish food is well positioned to leverage the growing customer appreciation here of the provenance of food and sustainable production. This trade mission will give us the chance to introduce our unique and sustainably produced food offering to the highest levels of the food industry in both countries. This week we have devised a combination of insight-led itineraries and strategic buyer engagement opportunities that will support Irish food and drink companies in their efforts to deepen existing key trade relationships and to create new business opportunities.”
Minister Creed concluded: "In line with our shared Food Wise 2025 strategy for the sustainable growth of the sector, increasing market access, developing and expanding our exports to new markets, and in particular Japan and the Republic of Korea, are priorities for my Department, working in close collaboration with Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Embassies in Tokyo and Seoul, and the Irish agri-food sector as a whole.’’