Report Published On NI Food And Drink Sector

Sales of food and drink in Northern Ireland are continuing to rise according to a new report by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Minister Michelle O'Neill welcomed the publication of the 'Size and Performance of the NI Food and Drinks Processing Sector, Subsector Statistics'.

The Minister said: "Let me start by acknowledging the very real financial difficulties facing the agricultural sector at the moment. Talking to dairy farmers yesterday at Stormont I heard at firsthand about the devastating impact of the downturn in milk prices over the past 12 months. I am also fully aware that a number of other farm sectors are hurting because of global market conditions.

"Turning to the figures published today I’m pleased with the positive figures in this report which indicate that the food and drinks processing sector continued to expand its turnover, employment and exports. Gross turnover grew by 5.8% in 2014."
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The Minister continued: "The local food and drinks processing sector has been, and continues to be, a real force within the local manufacturing sector. There is clear potential for further growth in this sector in the longer term, driven particularly by growth in export markets seeking high quality, safe and traceable food. It is therefore all the more important that we find a way through the current downturn in farming.

"Looking to the future, I remain committed to helping implement the agreed actions outlined in the Executive’s response to Going for Growth, so that as much as possible of this potential can be realised for the benefit of the wider economy and farmers in particular.In the meantime, I will work collectively with the industry, the Executive and the Agriculture Committee to improve the present situation for our industry."

The Minister concluded, "I am keen to get our draft Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 approved as quickly as possible so that significant support can be rolled out to the industry to help it develop a solid foundation for a sustainable future."

The full report is available of the DARD website.

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