Dairy Council for Northern Ireland (DCNI) Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike Johnston has confirmed that the local milk sector is the first in the UK to benefit from a unique dairy export initiative, which will be jointly funded by his own organisation and the EU.
A total of €625,000 will be made available over the next three years to allow dairy exports to grow in three regions: the Middle East, Russia and South East Asia.
Mr Johnston added: “Specifically, the monies will allow dairy companies in Northern Ireland attend key trade events in these regions while, at the same time, providing local processors with the wherewithal to host visits by potential new buyers from these parts of the world to the province.
“The new programme is all about driving export sales. And this will come as welcome news for local milk producers.”
The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster has given her support to the new programme. It has been confirmed that the first scheduled event, tying in with the initiative, will be Northern Ireland’s participation in SIAL China. Taking place next month, the event attracts over 2,700 international exhibitors. DCNI will be joining forces with Northern Ireland processors Dale Farm, Fane Valley and Pritchitts in China.
“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,” Johnston continued.
“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.”
Minister Arlene Foster commented: “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.”
Each year the new 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.