Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine recently addressed the Product Shelf life and Microbiological Criteria seminar in Dublin.
The Minister pointed out that the agri-food sector is the largest indigenous industry in Ireland and is playing a key role in the recovery of the Irish economy. He referred to the expected increase in Irish Food and Drink exports an all-time high of €8.9 billion, an increase of more than 12%, or almost €1 billion, on 2010 levels. “This follows growth of €700 million in 2010 and an overall 25% growth in exports from the sector in two years which is a tremendous performance by any standards”.
He pointed out that Food safety is the foundation on which the Irish food industry is built and Irish food products have an excellent reputation which continues to develop, helping to maximize returns from a competitive local and international market place. “However, safety of the food chain can never be taken for granted by food businesses and routine checks and balances are required by businesses to ensure that they produce safe food”.
Minister McEntee pointed out that the government and its agencies are committed to supporting the Irish food industry. “The collaboration between state agencies and the attendance of so many food companies and competent authorities at this event today reflects the continuing importance of agriculture and food production to the Irish economy at both regional and national level, and particularly in terms of employment created in the sector. The projected increased global demand, not only for food, but for higher ‘value added’ food provides a real opportunity for Ireland to position itself to significantly increase food exports due to our advantages of quality grassland, moderate climate, the quality of our farmers, the commitment to enterprise and the ongoing investment in innovation of our food companies.”
In conclusion, the Minister thanked the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and Teagasc for their organisation of the seminar.