Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D. launches Irish Food Board’s….

Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D. launches Irish Food Board’s three-year business strategy for UAE at Gulfood and Expo 2020 Dubai

  • Minister Charlie McConalogue’s first trade mission to the Gulf region features a full week’s programme, focused on launching Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board’s – three-year business strategy for the Middle East.
  • Commencing on February 13th in Dubai, the trade mission includes a visit to Gulfood, where 14 Irish food companies will showcase their latest innovations.
  • Bord Bia aims to increase exports to wider Middle East market to €380 million by 2025.
  • Visiting Expo 2020 Dubai during its Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods themed week, Minister McConalogue and Ailish Forde, Global Business Development Director, Bord Bia will be part of a series of client seminars and Bord Bia-organised panel discussions held at the Irish Pavilion to talk about sustainable food systems and food safety.
  • During the trade mission, the Irish delegation will officially welcome a new chef to the local chapter of Chefs’ Irish Beef Club.

Dubai, Monday, 14th February 2022: Launching Bord Bia’s (the Irish Food Board) new three-year business strategy for the Middle East market, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., will visit the United Arab Emirates, bringing with him 14 Irish companies in the food sector.

Signifying the importance placed on the region, Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D. is accompanied by Ailish Forde, Global Business Development Director, Bord Bia, leading a delegation of 14 Irish dairy, meat, and prepared consumer food exporters on the trade mission to Dubai.

Bord Bia’s new three-year strategy outlines a target of €380 million in Irish food and drink exports to the wider Middle East region by 2025, led by dairy and consumer foods. In this plan Ireland will target exports in excess of €100 million to Saudi Arabia and €85 million to the UAE by 2025.

Ireland exports agri-food to over 180 countries worldwide, reaching €13.5 billion in 2021. The industry-led strategy for the growth of the agri-food sector, Food Vision 2030, provides an ambitious and clear roadmap for the development of the sector and its aim is to increase this value to €21 billion by 2030.

Bord Bia has identified the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as priority markets in the region, accounting for a combined 50% of current Irish trade in the Gulf region. In 2021, exports to the Middle East were estimated at €311 million, dominated by dairy, and dairy ingredients (€272 million), followed by prepared consumer foods (PCF) at €21 million. Fat-filled milk powder (FFMP) and infant food are the largest categories within dairy while PCF is led by ice-cream, juices, and meal solutions across the Middle East.

Leading the trade mission, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. said, “Ireland’s Food Vision 2030 strategy sets a strong ambition for future value growth in Irish agri-food exports to €21 billion by 2030, based on our premium quality, safe and sustainably produced food products, with family farms as the bedrock of our food system. The current market dynamics of the Gulf region, including strong GDP and increased consumer spending power, will make it an increasingly important market for our export-focused food industry.”

Gulfood: Strengthening the presence of Irish food brands in the UAE market

Commencing the first trade mission by Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board – to the Gulf region since the start of the pandemic, the delegation will visit Irish exporters participating in Gulfood, the region’s largest annual food, beverage and hospitality trade fair, where Bord Bia has been showcasing leading Irish food and drink brands at every year since 2015.

The key objective for the trade mission is to introduce Bord Bia’s three-year business strategy into both markets to help drive commercial opportunities for Irish dairy and PCF exporters in the Middle East, improve government-to-government engagement in UAE and KSA, and enhance the reputation of Ireland as a trusted supplier and trading partner for the highest quality, sustainably produced food and drink products.

Tara McCarthy, Chief Executive of Bord Bia, said, “The Middle East region represents high potential growth opportunities for Irish food and drink producers, a market that values high quality products, and where Ireland is recognised for its excellence in producing sustainably produced products. With the strong export performance in 2021, we are prioritising on growing this market further, in particular the UAE and Saudi Arabia which makes up 50 per cent of all our exports to the region. Bord Bia’s strategy for the Middle East to be announced next week as part of the trade mission will provide a roadmap for our ambitions over the next week to substantially increase Irish exports. Sustainability will be at the heart of all of Bord Bia’s work over the next three years and building strength in sustainability is a strategic enabler for the industry.”

Supporting UAE Consumers with Sustainable Food Consumption

For the opening of Expo 2020’s thematic week on Agriculture, Food & Livelihoods, Bord Bia will host a seminar in the Irish Pavilion outlining Ireland’s capabilities in food sustainability, traceability and safety. This event, which is open to the public, will feature two panel discussions focused on Food Sustainability and Food Safety. The event focuses on Ireland’s commitment to be a global leader in sustainable food systems, with an introductory address by Minister McConalogue T.D., followed by two panel discussions.  

Organised in cooperation with the Embassy of Ireland to UAE and Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI), Bord Bia will welcome government and agency officials, food safety managers and other sectoral players in food security and food safety from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

According to a recent survey by Bord Bia, UAE consumers are leading the way globally in prioritising sustainability as a food and drink mandate. The Irish Food Board explored purchasing habits across 13 countries to better understand how different markets are responding to these changes. UAE consumers showed a growing interest in natural foods, backed by the understanding that natural produce is the healthier choice. Nearly 60% (57%) of the participants agreed that the naturalness of the product influences their grocery choices, the highest of all markets.

Linked to sustainability, UAE consumers are also increasingly aware of food quality and traceability, and as a result willing to pay a premium for food and beverage products that are quality assured, have high nutritional value and are natural. Nearly a third (29%) of UAE beef consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality assured beef, ahead of all other attributes. Additionally, a half of the UAE participants (47%) affirmed their interest in natural dairy products, and a remarkable 84% of UAE consumers confirmed making an effort to limit their consumption of artificial additives, significantly higher than the global average of 75%.

Kieran Fitzgerald, Regional Director – Middle East, for Bord Bia, said: “These survey results suggests that the shift in consumer behaviours caused by the effects of the pandemic can no longer be considered a passing fad, particularly in the Middle East. The food and drink industry needs to pay attention to consumer demands now more than ever, and it is becoming more evident that there is an incredible opportunity for food producers looking to grow internationally to adopt sustainability at the core of their business strategy. This greater interest in food quality indicates that the UAE market is likely to make their selections based on nutritional values and naturalness of the products. This reinforces the fact that businesses need to work towards educating their consumers about their sustainability agenda and wider food production practices in order to be a successful business.”

Reinforcing Irish presence in UAE’s food sector

Coinciding with the trade mission to the UAE, the delegation welcomed several Irish business announcements. Minister McConalogue and Ailish Forde, Global Business Development Director, Bord Bia will be unveiling their latest award-winning Chef who will be joining the UAE chapter of the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club (CIBC), launched in 2017 and the first outside Europe.

Set up in 2004, CIBC – led by Bord Bia – is an international platform with nine chapters globally across the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and the UAE, with more than 90 chefs serving as ambassadors of premium Irish meat and dairy. Irish grass-fed beef is known to be among the best in the world and it is widely acknowledged by leading chefs who are a part of the invite-only CIBC.

As part of the trade mission, Global Business Development Director, Bord Bia, Ailish Forde will also be speaking at the launch of the Spinneys sustainability themed promotion, Sustainable Ireland, to highlight Irish brands and their participation in Origin Green, Ireland’s national food and drink sustainability programme.

Spinneys, a premium grocery retailer in the UAE, accounting for 4-5% of overall market share, stocks many Irish brands in its stores throughout the UAE. Spinneys has recently launched its ‘Farm to Table’ programme, which aims to educate children on healthy diets. This, combined with Spinneys’ commitment to sustainably sourcing food, makes for strong partnerships with Irish suppliers and Bord Bia.

Bord Bia is the Irish government agency that manages the promotion, trade development and marketing of the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry.  Headquartered in Dublin, Bord Bia supports the national and international ambitions of Irish food, drink and horticulture businesses through its highly focused organisational structure and its network of offices in EMEA, Asia and the USA. The Dubai office is directed by Kieran Fitzgerald, newly appointed Regional Director of Middle East for Bord Bia.


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