Northern Ireland agri-food competes with the world’s best – McIlveen

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The Northern Ireland agri-food sector is competing with the world’s best, Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen has said during a visit to the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris.

The world’s largest food innovation exhibition, SIAL brings together food producers, processors, buyers and journalists from across the world and this year a number of Northern Ireland companies are taking part.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris with Mark McKeever, originally from Co Armagh, on the Ten Acre hand cooked crisps and popcorn exhibit.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris with Mark McKeever, originally from Co Armagh, on the Ten Acre hand cooked crisps and popcorn exhibit.

Highlighting the quality of local produce, the Minister said: “The agri-food sector is a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland economy, generating an estimated £4.8 billion in turnover and accounting for a quarter of manufacturing exports, and it continues to receive international recognition.

“Our outstanding natural environment gives our food a unique provenance that appeals to consumers the world over, while our use of the latest traceability and processing techniques means our products and supply chain are among the most trusted and valued. With 2016 being the official Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink, what better way to highlight our offering than to attend SIAL, the biggest event of its kind this year.”

At the show the Minister visited trade stands featuring local food companies, including those hosted by Invest Northern Ireland and the UK Department for International Trade. Miss McIlveen also addressed attendees at a special Game of Thrones-themed dinner in Paris showcasing Northern Ireland meat producers, and will attend the St George Dinner, hosted by the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

She said: “The local meat sector accounts for around half of Northern Ireland’s manufacturing turnover. The Game of Thrones-themed dinner in Paris, hosted by the Livestock and Meat Commission and Invest NI and attended by some of Europe’s top meat buyers, producers and journalists, was a fantastic way of showing the world the quality and uniqueness of Northern Ireland’s offering.

“The agri-food sector is a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland economy, generating an estimated £4.8 billion in turnover and accounting for a quarter of manufacturing exports, and it continues to receive international recognition.”

Michelle McIlveen, Food and Farming Minister

“This event, along with the AHDB’s prestigious St George Dinner, offers a valuable platform for local food producers and farming representatives to engage with and influence their international counterparts.”

The Minister concluded: “I have no doubt that Northern Ireland has made a strong and lasting impression at SIAL. We have representation from both the meat and non-meat sectors and from small, medium and large businesses.

“I continue to be hugely impressed by the standard of our local produce, and I congratulate all of the Northern Ireland companies that attended the exhibition for helping yet again to highlight our natural strengths to a global audience.”

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris with Trevor Lockhart and Gerry Maguire of Armagh company Linden Food Group.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris with Trevor Lockhart and Gerry Maguire of Armagh company Linden Food Group.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris with Jim and Jack Dobson, Janet Dobson and Sheila Boylan of Dunbia Group, headquartered in Dungannon.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris with Jim and Jack Dobson, Janet Dobson and Sheila Boylan of Dunbia Group, headquartered in Dungannon.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured with Davy Knox, Group Commercial Manager, and Paul Armstrong, Group Commercial Director, of Foyle Food Group at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris.

Food and Farming Minister Michelle McIlveen pictured with Davy Knox, Group Commercial Manager, and Paul Armstrong, Group Commercial Director, of Foyle Food Group at the SIAL global food exhibition in Paris.