Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Trade trip to Middle East worth over e500m in exports

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Irish food and agricultural service suppliers have arrived home with millions of euro in new contracts following their week-long trade mission to the Middle East.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who led the 60-strong delegation, is confident that Irish food and service suppliers will easily double their annual exports to the region to over €500m in the next seven years.

Several smaller companies have already strengthened their presence in the emerging market following the trip.

Potato farmers and crisp manufacturer Keoghs expects to double its annual sales of €100,000.

Fruit and vegetable distributor Donnellys also landed a new contract to supply fresh bagged salads to Choithrams, a large retailer in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Service providers such as Cork-based BioTector signed its second biggest contract ever with a company working in Saudi Arabia.

The €5m contract to supply water pollution monitoring equipment over five years will allow CEO David Horan to increase employment at his Ringaskiddy manufacturing plant significantly before the end of the year.

"It can be bureaucratic and time consuming getting customers out here but once you're in, there's a lot of repeat business," Mr Horan said.

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However, the biggest increase in Irish agricultural exportsto the Gulf States is expected to come from meat and dairy products.

Bord Bia, Kerry and the Irish Dairy Board (IDB) all announced the opening of new offices and manufacturing facilities in the region last week. IDB is targeting annual sales of 18,000t of its new soft white cheese product that it has developed specially for the Middle Eastern market.

The €20m joint venture with Saudi dairy trader Al Wazeen has the potential to create €75m of annual sales for the IDB.

Irish Independent