Irish trading with US is a 'two-way street'
IRISH companies are now employing almost as many people in the US as American multinationals employ in Ireland.
Food firms are leading the charge with the latest addition being a $40m (€36m) state-of-the-art sandwich plant for Greencore which was yesterday officially opened by the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney on Rhode Island on the east coast.
It follows large investments by companies such as the Irish Dairy Board and Glanbia in the last 12 months, bringing total employment by Irish firms in the US to 80,000.
It marks a shift in the relationship between the US and Ireland, according to Mr Coveney who is highlighting that Irish beef is back in the US market for the first time in 15 years. "We have traditionally been seen as a major beneficiary of US investment, with American firms employing close to 110,000 in Ireland.
"But the trading relationship is becoming much more of a two-way street now, with Ireland being the seventh largest foreign investor in the US," he said at the opening of Greencore's eighth US-based plant, a 107,000sqft factory expected to employ 400 when fully operational. The company has seen its US business grow tenfold in the last five years, with another "doubling or trebling" expected in the next five years, said the group's US CEO, Liam McLennon.
He believes there will be a opportunities for Irish food producers to sell more to expanding companies like Greencore. Some 60pc of its US business is based on contracts with Starbucks and 7-Eleven. Greencore had sales of €1.75bn last year and is headed up by Mr Coveney's brother, Patrick.