The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed this morning announced an agreement on enhanced access for Irish beef to Saudi Arabia.
The enhanced agreement will see the range of beef exported from Ireland to Saudi Arabia extended to processed, cooked, minced and bone-in beef products.
Saudi Arabia has grown to be an important market for the Irish agri-food sector and in 2016 Irish agri-food exports were valued at €136m.
The announcement was made on the first day of the Irish agri-food Trade Mission to the Gulf region.
This agreement follows high level discussions this afternoon between Minister Creed and Prof. Dr Hisham Saad Aljadhey, the Executive President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), which is the competent authority in Saudi Arabia for market access matters.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Creed said, “I was delighted to secure today’s agreement after discussions with Prof. Dr Hisham Saad Aljadhey.
This agreement will make a difference to Irish companies wishing to export beef to Saudi Arabia, by adding processed, cooked, minced and bone-in beef to the products that can be exported to Saudi Arabia.
“This is testament to the high regard in which Irish beef is held here and marks the culmination of intensive work by my Department, our Embassy here in Riyadh and the industry over recent months.
“Last year Ireland exported some €2.4 billion worth of beef to around 70 countries.
“I am very cognisant of the need both to expand the number of beef markets but also to enhance existing market access given our current exposure to the UK beef market.
“Minced, processed and cooked beef, are all potentially valuable products and we want to develop export opportunities for them, in addition to intact cuts of beef.
The Minister also discussed a number of technical certification issues of interest to the dairy and other sectors, and both sides agreed that the process for Irish sheepmeat access should commence, and arrangements are being made to follow up on the necessary technical steps.
Minister Creed and his delegation, including representatives from his Department, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and the SFSI, also met his counterpart HE Eng. Abdulrahman A. Alfadley to discuss a number of potential areas for mutual cooperation in the agri-food sector.
Minister Alfadley was formerly CEO of Almarai a major Saudi dairy company with close historical ties to Ireland.
The Minister also met with CEO of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Company (SALIC), a state owned agri-investment company with a mission to secure long term food supplies for Saudi Arabia through investment and supply contracts.
Minister Creed invited the CEO of SALIC to Ireland for further discussions.
This was followed by the launching of Green Isle Foods Goodfellas pizza range at Danube, one of the largest Saudi retail outlets.
Green Isle Foods is Irelands’ largest frozen food manufacturing company and exports its products to over 30 countries worldwide.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Creed said; “I am delighted to have launched a branded Irish product on Saudi retail shelves.”
“Green Isle Foods is a perfect example of an Irish prepared consumer foods company doing business all over the globe”.
Later that evening the Minister also delivered a speech to attended guests at a reception in Embassy of Ireland Riyadh, hosted by Ambassador Tony Cotter, where he outlined Irelands Origin Green programme and our unique offering of safe, sustainably produced quality food.
“Last year Saudi Arabia was the third largest non-EU destination for Irish agri-food exports, only behind China and the USA,” the Minister said.
Total Agri food exports to Saudi Arabia increased from €92m in 2013 to €136m in 2016, representing an increase of almost 50% over the course of only three years.
“It was a pleasure to meet my counterpart this morning in Riyadh, His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli and to have the opportunity to highlight the role of Ireland as a producer of safe, high quality and sustainably produced Irish food and drink.
“This is a rapidly expanding market place and Ireland wants to be part of that,” he said.
Arab food buyers to visit Irish food exporters next month
Amy Forde, AgriLand
Bord Bia has revealed that it plans to host two senior food buyers from Spinneys, one of the leading high-end supermarket chains in the United Arab Emirates, on a three-day visit to Ireland next month.
The announcement was made today, March 2, during an official visit by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and Bord Bia Chief Executive, Tara McCarthy, to the Spinneys store in Dubai.
Spinneys has over 55 retail outlets across the UAE and is a substantial purchaser of Irish food.
The top-end store is well known among Irish ex-pats for stocking Irish-branded goods such as Clonakilty Pudding, Golden Irish Eggs, Glenisk yoghurts and Keogh’s Crisps, to mention but a few.
According to Bord Bia, the Spinneys buyers will meet with, and visit, a number of Irish exporters with the ability to supply meat, seafood and private-label products for Spinneys.
Bord Bia also announced its plans to partner with Spinneys on an Origin Green Project to explore sustainable packaging practices.
The three-month project will commence in April, with initial plans to be reviewed in June. Bord Bia is also hoping to place a full-time Origin Green Ambassador with Spinneys in 2018.
Next month’s planned visit will be the second such visit by Spinneys this year. Last month, at the invitation of Bord Bia, two buyers met with some 17 Irish food and drink companies.
In addition, Fresh Express, recognised as the leading food and beverage distributor in the premium food and hospitality business in the Gulf Region, will visit Ireland later this month on a separate itinerary.
The distributor, which currently sells Irish seafood, will look to build on its Irish supply base in seafood, dairy and confectionery.
Keogh’s Crisps has recently appointed Aramtec as its distributor in the UAE, as a direct result of a Bord Bia inward buyer visit to Ireland last November.
Aramtec is an importer and distributor of premium food products throughout the UAE, supplying the finest hotels, restaurants, institutions and retail markets. Aramtec is also the pioneer in introducing the fast-food concept restaurants in the UAE.
Some 50 Irish food and drink brands can be found on the shelves in the UAE.
Bord Bia at Gulfood
This week, Bord Bia is coordinating Ireland’s largest ever presence at Gulfood, the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show taking place in Dubai.
The Origin Green Ireland stand, which includes some 21 exporters across dairy, meat and consumer food, is a significant and timely representation of the Irish industry following this week’s Trade Mission led by Minister Creed.
Gulfood attracts nearly 100,000 food buyers from around the world and runs until today, March 2.
The trade mission and Gulfood will conclude with an Origin Green Gala Dinner, run by Bord Bia this evening.
Some 350 guests are expected to attend, including buyers, importers and distributors of food and ingredients from across the Gulf Region, with a combined purchasing power of €1.9 billion in the room.
The menu will feature the best of Irish produce and Chef Rob Krawczyk, who will prepare the meal with Irish beef to the fore, will accompany Allan Morris of John Stone Beef and Padraig Brennan of Bord Bia to host an informal discussion around the merits of Irish food and what Origin Green means for the future.