“Marketing, innovation and competitiveness are the catalysts for growth, which Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector urgently needs if it is to reach its ambitious growth targets.”
This was the message delivered by NIFDA Chairman Dr David Dobbin, before an audience of industry leaders at the 2014 NIFDA (Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association) Dinner (20 November).
He added: “We now need a step change in activity if we are to achieve the targets set out in the AgriFood Strategy Board Report. While government must play its part we must look first and foremost to ourselves to take charge of our own destiny. We must develop a clear vision and winning strategy in each of our businesses and above all we must make it happen.
“This includes a focus on the marketing of Northern Ireland food and drink in export markets if we are to realise our full potential, raising exports by 75% and creating the 15,000 new jobs projected.”
Reiterating NIFDA’s call for a food marketing body, “Without such a dedicated resource focussed on export markets we will always be at a distinct disadvantage compared to our closest neighbours, and competitors, in the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.”
Over 200 representatives of the Northern Ireland’s leading food processing companies attended the NIFDA dinner to hear from Iceland Founder and CEO, Malcolm Walker, who discussed Iceland’s ‘rise, fall and rise again’.
Speaking about the support for the NIFDA dinner, Des Moore, Head of First Trust Bank said: “First Trust Bank is delighted to sponsor NIFDA’s 18th annual dinner. We are excited to be engaging directly with the Northern Ireland agri-food sector at this strategically important time when there is a singular focus on maximising the global potential for the industry.
“We have been impressed by the excellent work carried out by the Agri-Food Strategy Board and how it has captured the tremendous export opportunities presented by a changing world. Importantly it has provided a clear roadmap as to how to achieve this and for our part we recognise we have an important support role to play. We understand the challenges the industry faces and we intend to play a much bigger part in helping the sector exploit those opportunities.”