Bord Bia is preparing the groundwork to help Irish dairy exporters boost their presence in Asia, as it targets opportunities for them in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam.
It's going to hire consultants to undertake a study that will provide more information regarding the countries' food service dairy ingredients channels.
The research is intended to give Bord Bia client companies in Ireland "specific granular insights" around what ingredients are being used in the three countries.
"This will include clarity on the proportion of each ingredient being put to direct use in a food service environment and what proportion is subject to further manufacturing," Bord Bia noted in a newly published request for tenders.
"For new entrants and client companies looking to increase presence in the countries, it will set out a three-year market entry strategy identifying potential partners and the requirements for becoming established in servicing the food service channel in that country," it added.
Bord Bia has been scoping out additional potential business in Asia for Irish agri-firms over the past year.
Last year, it initiated studies into the opportunities for both Irish pork meat and Irish pizza cheese in China.
The country is the world's largest market for pork, with 21pc of Irish pork exports sent to China in 2018.
Meanwhile, there are more than 3,700 pizza outlets in China, and Bord Bia predicted that the Westernisation of diets there could be an opportunity for Irish dairy.
Bord Bia wants to establish a range of insights in relation to the dairy markets in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam, including how Irish produce is perceived by buyers in those countries.
It also wants clarity on a number of technical issues, including freight and labelling requirements, audit procedures, shelf-life requirements and the scope for selling products to the food service sector without the use of agents.
Bord Bia noted last year that the Japan-EU economic partnership came into effect in February 2019, and that this will result in a progressive reduction in tariff levels for imported dairy ingredients in coming years.
The current major dairy exporters to Japan are New Zealand and Australia, along with the EU and the United States. The biggest dairy import to Japan is cheese, followed by skim milk powder.