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Sunday 11 December 2016

€5bn export surge sought in 2020 plan

Food Harvest report targets ambitious 50pc dairy output hike

Declan O'Brien

Published 20/07/2010 | 05:00

Agriculture Minister Brendan
Smith and Taoiseach Brian
Cowen launch a new strategy
for Irish Agri-Food and
Fisheries. Mr Cowen said the
agri-food sector had a major
role to play in Ireland's
economic recovery. He was
speaking at the launch for
Food Harvest 2020, a report
which proposes ambitious
growth targets for the sector
over the next decade
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and Taoiseach Brian Cowen launch a new strategy for Irish Agri-Food and Fisheries. Mr Cowen said the agri-food sector had a major role to play in Ireland's economic recovery. He was speaking at the launch for Food Harvest 2020, a report which proposes ambitious growth targets for the sector over the next decade

A massive €5bn increase in food exports by 2020 is the ambitious target set by a new Government report on the agri-food and fisheries industry.

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A 50pc increase in dairy output, a 20pc lift in beef and sheep production respectively and a 50pc hike in pigmeat output are the key goals contained in the 'Food Harvest 2020' report, launched by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday.

The development of a 'Brand Ireland' marketing strategy to promote the country's "green and natural reputation" is one of the key recommendations from the strategy report.

The report -- which was drawn up by an industry committee headed by Dr Sean Brady -- called for the establishment of a steering group to oversee the development of the Brand Ireland concept.

It is envisaged that this group would report regularly to the agri-food industry, the Government and producers.

It is accepted that the initiative could take between three and five years to implement. However, the national brand development is set out as a critical element of the strategy.

"If the environmental credentials of the Irish food and drink are to be recognised on the world stage, a coherent, unified message encompassing all sectors of the industry is essential," the report stated.

Citing the success of brands such as Jameson, Baileys and Kerrygold, the report identifies the extension of this approach to the wider food sector as a priority objective.

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In order to drive the Brand Ireland initiative and develop what the report terms a "smarter" and "greener" industry, the committee calls for:



  • Government action in securing full industry buy-in for a 'green' model for Ireland;
  • A sustainability audit for Irish agri-food;
  • Bord Bia research clarifying the consumer relationship with sustainability issues;
  • Teagasc-led scientific research to underpin Ireland's sustainability claims.


Significant growth potential in the dairy and pig sectors particularly are flagged in the report.

However, the ability to realise this potential will have to be balanced against Ireland's requirement to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming, the report warned.

Dairying is singled out as a sector with proven potential to drive agricultural output and exports.

The abolition of quotas provides an opportunity for Ireland to grow milk production by 50pc over the next decade, the report claimed. This goal is described as "realistic and achievable".

"This 2.75bn litre increase would enhance primary output by €700m, with further downstream benefits in the form of increased dairy values, export earnings and employment," the report suggested.

While a doubling of research and development (R&D) spending is called for across the entire agri-foods sector, this investment is seen as essential for the dairy industry.

Collaboration on commercially focused R&D programmes between industry, Teagasc and third-level institutions is sought, with priority to be given to the development of added-value products such as nutraceuticals and functional foods.

The report comes out in support of the Milk Ireland project by calling for a smaller number of processors "who have the scale and culture to drive efficiency". The overall cost of financing the expansion in processing capacity is put at €400m.

Teagasc should set a target of 9,000 progressive milk suppliers participating in "vibrant" discussion groups, the report stated.

In terms of the beef sector, the 2020 strategy identified the maintenance of the suckler cow herd as an issue of critical importance.

Repeating the ICBF contention that profitability levels in the suckler cow herd could be increased by €200m by improved breeding, it called for greater use of genomics in the beef herd.

Research needed to be focused on reduced slaughter ages and grass-based finishing systems. The production of bull beef from the beef and dairy herds should also be encouraged, the report said.

In terms of the processing sector, it stated that further consolidation needed to be considered. Specific efforts must also be sought to reduce the price gap between Irish beef and premium products on export markets. Output growth of 20pc and 50pc is set for the sheep and pig meat sectors respectively by 2020.

Building consumption of sheep meat on the domestic market was identified as a potential driver of output. It also called for a diversification of exports from a dependence on lamb carcasses to more processed cuts.

The report said increased worldwide demand for pigmeat provided the potential for a 50pc increase in output from the pig sector. Increased production would be on the basis of improved sow output and a significant hike in the size of the national herd.

Increased livestock numbers would provide opportunities for more cereal production, the report stated.

However, the authors accepted that high input and land rental costs and low profitability could restrict the sector's ability to expand output.

Irish Independent



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