“When it comes to sales of agri food outside Northern Ireland we believe that there is a strong case for a single coordinated approach to marketing by industry and government through a new body in Northern Ireland akin to what they have done across the Irish Sea with Scotland Food and Drink,” according to LMC Chairman Gerard McGivern.
LMC is currently undertaking a series of meetings with its key stakeholders as it develops its strategy for the next three years to deliver essential services for the local beef and sheep meat supply chain.
With outputs of cattle and sheep at farm level approaching £450m in value and turnover in the beef and sheep meat processing sector approaching £1.3bn the sector provides a huge contribution to the economy of Northern Ireland. LMC currently delivers a range of foundation services to the sector to support its development and marketing in domestic, external and export markets.
As the sector seeks to grow and exceed the ambitious targets set out the by Agri Food Strategy Board in Going for Growth it is LMC’s view that the need for a coordinated strategy by industry and government to open up new markets and develop opportunities for sales of produce from Northern Ireland becomes ever more important.
Gerard commented: “In recent weeks we have been having very constructive discussions with our key funding stakeholders from the farming and processing sectors to better understand the challenges and opportunities they face and how we can best tailor our services to help them achieve their objectives.
“A consistent message that we are getting from farmers and processors is the absolute need for the widest possible access to global markets to maximise the return for every technical component of the quality farmed and processed livestock they produce.
“We have a strong platform in the domestic market in Northern Ireland with consumers here eating 60% more carcase beef in the home relative to those in the rest of the UK and we will continue to promote NI FQAS Beef and Lamb to our important consumer base across the province.”
Gerard continued: “LMC is willing and ready to play a lead role in a new strategic marketing body and the immediate priority should be driving for greater access to third country markets across the world.
“In the red meat sector we have seen the Republic of Ireland successfully getting market access for beef to USA, the Philippines and Japan with China likely to follow soon.
“These are all strategic market priorities for the Northern Ireland agri food industry and we must collectively do all we can in priority countries to build relationships and instil confidence so that we get these markets open and export business developed as soon as possible.
“It is almost three years since Going for Growth was launched at Balmoral Show in 2013 and we cannot afford to wait another three years for our competitors to capitalise on potential market opportunities whilst industry and government here continue to debate what structure is right for agri-food marketing from Northern Ireland. Let’s just work together and get on with it.”