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International meat buyers in Bord Bia visit

International meat buyers from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore descended on a 160ac sheep and beef farm in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny, yesterday as part of a nationwide Bord Bia marketing effort taking place this week.

The buyers were taking part in a tour of beef and lamb producers and meat processors around Ireland that also included a trip to the Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin, Co Wexford, the ABP plant in Cahir, Co Tipperary, and ICBF's centre in Tully, Co Kildare.

The diverse group of meat buyers was just one segment of a 300-strong delegation of potential customers for Irish food and drink who are in Ireland this week to attend the Bord Bia Global Sustainability Conference, which will take place in Dublin this week.

Bord Bia, in conjunction with the food and drink industry, has organised tailored itineraries for 130 existing customers for Irish food and drink and 170 potential new customers from 25 countries all over the world.

Buyers from Libya have a dairy itinerary for the week that includes meetings with Kerry Group, Teagasc, Dairygold and Glanbia, as well as visits to a number of dairy farms.

At the same time, a delegation of Chinese pigmeat buyers are to visit several Irish pigmeat processors and pig producers, including Rosderra Meats, Hermitage AI and the Dawn Pork and Bacon plant in Grannagh, Co Waterford.

The Chinese group is also set to get a glimpse of Ireland's biggest agricultural event by visiting the National Ploughing Championships. The six pigmeat buyers and three journalists are among the 700 delegates attending the Bord Bia sustainability conference on Thursday.

As well as China and Libya, the buyers are from Indonesia, Mongolia, Russia, the United States, India, Korea and all over Europe. Their itineraries are as varied as their nationalities, with trips focusing on beef and lamb, dairy, alcohol, frozen foods, seafood and the gluten-free and organic sectors.

Their excursions all over Ireland are intended as a first introduction to how Irish food and drink is produced and Bord Bia hopes the mammoth effort will result in concrete sales for Irish produce within 18-24 months.

More than 750 delegates have registered for the Bord Bia sustainability conference in Dublin on Thursday, which will feature speakers from Nestle, Mars, Pepsi, McDonald's, Tesco and the World Wildlife Fund.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to open the international conference in the Convention Centre, Dublin, and the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is to close it.

Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter will explain Ireland's Origin Green campaign, which aims to promote the country's environmentally sustainable methods of farming and food production to the conference delegates and the 40-strong group of international journalists attending.

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