Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive Ian Stevenson has confirmed that his organisation will remain a standalone body under the proposals to establish a single food marketing body announced by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster last week.
“My understanding is that the model followed will mirror that already working in Scotland,” he said.
“This will provide all of the current food marketing agencies in Northern Ireland with an agreed framework, within which we can all work more co-operatively and effectively.”
He added: “The Agri-Food Strategy Board has set out a very clear and ambitious growth strategy for the Northern Ireland food and drink sector in the coming years. A key element in assisting industry to realise its growth potential is making sure that access to the best paying markets is secured and maintained and that our locally produced food and drink attracts the best prices available in those markets. As the lead organisation actively providing agri-food marketing and promotion services to the beef and sheep meat sector in Northern Ireland LMC is of the long held view that greater collaboration in agri-food marketing and promotion between sectoral organisations, industry and government can only be good for enhancing our offering in the marketplace at home and abroad.”
Mr Stevenson continued: “There are always natural tensions between sectors competing for a place in consumers’ shopping baskets and when they are dining out. This healthy competition is good for driving our local food and drink sectors to be efficient and best in class however there are many common goals that could be achieved through a synergystic collaborative approach to agri-food marketing and promotion. Every sector is keen to secure access to the widest range of markets possible and to promote the world leading traceability, quality and nutritional attributes of our local products to customers and potential customers. Each sector wishes to elevate the excellent sustainability credentials of our local sectors and to have the best market intelligence readily available and they are determined to extract the best returns possible from the marketplace.”
He concluded: “LMC already has good working relationships with industry, government and sectoral organisations in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and farther afield. We look forward to being an integral part of the Agri-Food Strategy Board and wider stakeholders’ ambition for strategic promotion and marketing of the industry in support of its growth plans.”