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China to become Ireland’s next billion-euro food and drink market

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China will become the first billion-euro market for Irish food and drink exports outside of the UK within the next three years, according to Bord Bia.

Bord Bia CEO, Aidan Cotter, made the remarks as Bord Bia announced the opening of a second office in the region. With its Shanghai hub serving the Chinese market, a new base in Singapore will now focus on the South and East Asian countries of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Korea.

“Given that Irish food and drink exports to China have grown 10-fold in ten years to reach €654m, we are confident China will be a €1bn market in the next three years. China is currently our second largest market for pork and dairy, while it remains a valuable and increasingly important market destination for Irish seafood,” said Mr Cotter.

Earlier this week, Bord Bia launched a major new digital campaign to directly promote Irish dairy products to China’s online shoppers and influencers. This is the first consumer-facing campaign undertaken by Bord Bia in China. In its initial phase, it is expected to reach in excess of 33 million Chinese consumers through a series of online ads, promotions and targeted blogger engagement, according to Bord Bia.

Bord Bia carried out extensive research in the market ahead of the campaign launch. This included over 300 hours of in-field research across three cities, 14 brand clinics, 36 stores and 48 homes to monitor Chinese consumers’ eating and shopping habits.

The growth potential of south-east Asia for food and drink exports had been identified by Bord Bia and Irish companies alike in recent years. To effectively leverage the opportunity, Bord Bia has now established a second office in the region that will help build business for Irish exporting companies, particularly dairy, meat and seafood. With its relatively small population, Singapore is currently one of the largest importers of Irish food and drink in the region. It also boasts a large manufacturing base and a significant trading influence in the region.

Speaking in Singapore this weekend, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said the opening of the office was testament to the government’s ambition to meet the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 to grow the Irish food exports.

“From here Bord Bia will have its finger on the pulse of the Asian economy and the office will be the launch-pad for Irish food and drink exporters to explore new opportunities in the region. I believe the investment will pay handsome dividends in the coming years as Bord Bia builds new contacts, gathers market insight and assists companies find new customers,” said Minister Creed.

Meanwhile Aidan Cotter added: “The opening of our new office in Singapore represents the industry’s ambition for the south-east Asia market. With a growing economy and a steadily-increasing population that currently stands at 600 million, the region offers huge growth potential at a time when our food and drink industry drives forward to realise its ambition of increasing exports by 85 per cent.”

“Exports to Singapore itself have been growing steadily since 2010; from €21 million then to almost €33 million in 2014. While growth was dominated by dairy, beverages and pigmeat, the range of products extends to prepared foods, seafood and sheepmeat,” Mr Cotter continued.

“With a population of 5.5 million and a land size of 719 square kilometres, Singapore is smaller than Co Louth. However, it has a population density over five times that of Co Dublin. Furthermore, a GDP per capita of approx. €49,000 makes it the richest in the region and an ideal customer profile for premium, high-quality Irish food and drink exports.”

Singapore also has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least a million US dollars in disposable wealth, excluding property, business and luxury goods.

Bord Bia recently recruited Sligoman, Ciarán Gallagher, to head up the office in Singapore. Ciarán has spent the last four years working for Glanbia Nutritionals Ingredient Technologies in China and is a graduate of the prestigious Farmleigh Fellowship, which aims to equip young Irish professionals with the business, cultural and communication skills needed to succeed in the Asian marketplace.

Yesterday, Bord Bia concluded what it considered “its most ambitious trade mission ever”, spanning four countries in eight days, with a delegation of 90 senior representatives from Ireland’s food sector. The Trade Mission was jointly led by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD and Minister of State Andrew Doyle.

“Throughout the week, the Asian food industry showed a deep interest in the full range of Irish food products and our Origin Green sustainability programme. Each of the main events, which included seminars in Vietnam, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore, attracted large numbers of local food buyers, trading partners and media. The high levels of engagement between exporters and buyers is encouraging and assures me that business opportunities will multiply as these economies grow,” concluded Mr Cotter.

Tags: Bord Bia food exports agri-food China Aidan Cotter