27/05/2005

NI food industry gets £2.79m aid package

Agriculture Minister Jeff Rooker has announced details of a £2.79 million EU award package for the Northern Ireland food-processing sector.

The awards, totalling £2.44 million from EU funds and £0.35 million from Invest NI national funds, will assist the creation of up to 91 jobs in eight projects submitted by Northern Ireland food companies under the EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme.

The funding scheme is designed to improve the economic performance and international competitiveness of the food processing sector.

Commenting on the awards, the Minister said: "This fifth round of awards under the EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme shows the continuing emphasis placed on innovation and market development by our local processing sector. This was highlighted in some of the key themes of the 'Fit for Market' report.

"The projects assessed continue to be of a high quality, and the new investments will further enhance the competitiveness of the industry and provide a sustainable benefit to primary producers.”

The new projects are estimated to create a further 91 new jobs and should safeguard existing jobs as the project applicants currently employ a cumulative total of 1,680 staff.

(MB/SP)

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