Minister Foster launches dairy export programme

Pictured are  Harry O'Neill Chairman of DCNI, Dr Mike Johnston Chief Executive of DCNI, Minister Foster and Ms Wang Shuying Chinese Consulate General.
Pictured are Harry O'Neill Chairman of DCNI, Dr Mike Johnston Chief Executive of DCNI, Minister Foster and Ms Wang Shuying Chinese Consulate General.

Dairy industry leaders gathered at Stormont’s long gallery today to hear details of a major dairy export programme jointly funded by the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland and the EU.

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster gave her support to the three year programme which will help dairy companies drive sales by identifying new customers in SE Asia, Middle East and Russia.

The first event will be participation in SIAL China next month, which has over 2,700 international exhibitors, with DCNI joining with Northern Ireland processors Dale Farm, Fane Valley and Pritchitts to promote EU dairy products from Northern Ireland.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “Engagement between government, the dairy sector and trade bodies is vital as we look to promote the quality of Northern Ireland’s dairy produce to emerging markets and facilitate the development of new business. My department will continue to work with the Dairy Council NI to explore initiatives such as The Third Country Export Programme. With the removal of milk quotas, and increased volatility in dairy markets, it is more important than ever that the industry find new high value markets for Northern Ireland milk products outside the EU.”

Welcoming the Minister’s attendance at today’s event, Dr Mike Johnston, Chief Executive of DCNI said: “If we are to achieve sustained growth within the dairy industry we need to develop long term relationships with customers, not just in domestic markets, but also in countries outside the EU. Projections suggest that global demand for dairy products will continue to grow, and we want to use this programme to help Northern Ireland dairy companies identify new customers and develop relationships with them, so that we can benefit from demand growth. We are looking forward to exhibiting at SIAL China which will help to develop important trade links in South East Asia; and the three year export programme will also see us target other markets including the Middle East and Russia.”

The new dairy export programme is a three year €625,000 initiative. The DCNI export programme is the first of its kind across the UK’s agri-food sector to secure EU funding (50%) with DCNI contributing the remaining funding for the programme. The programme will include participation in SIAL, China (May 2015), and possibly ProdExpo Moscow (2016).

Each year the programme will bring to Northern Ireland 16 potential new buyers for three day visits. It will also bring three journalists per year to NI from the target regions of Russia, SE Asia, and Middle East. The programme will also have a dedicated web site, information brochure and a DVD.