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Dairy companies aim to grow global sales


Dairy companies in Northern Ireland are keen to grow business for cheese and butter particularly in Europe and beyond. More than 80 per cent of Northern Ireland dairy products are currently sold outside the region. Although Great Britain and the European Union remain key markets for Northern Ireland dairy products, exports outside the EU are becoming more important.



Recent successes include Tyrone’s Fivemiletown Creamery selling its range of speciality cheese to Hong Kong’s biggest supermarket chain, Armaghdown butter from County Armagh being sold by Greenfield’s Ireland, a major international dairy marketing operation in Belfast, to Saudi Arabia and Dale Farm, the region’s biggest dairy business, supplying products to China.



Milk and milk products is worth around £800 million to the Northern Ireland economy. As well as being the biggest single sector within food, milk and milk products leads in terms of export earnings.



The industry has urged greater assistance from the Northern Ireland Executive to help to support its exports – particularly as competition rises from producers in the Republic of Ireland. The plea has been made in the Northern Ireland section of Dairy UK’s Action for Growth strategy document.



Opportunities for the industry are increasing as a result of a predicted 16 per cent growth in global demand for dairy products by 2018 - an annual growth rate of about two per cent. This offers considerable potential for the UK’s dairy sector, which according to Dairy UK currently has a turnover of £8.1bn and directly employs about 80,000 people.



“The key target for us going forward is growth,” said Jim Begg, director general of Dairy UK. Government can always help. The areas we think co-operation from government is most essential to assist us going forward, we have set out in this publication ‘Action for growth’."



Dairy UK said that export potential from Northern Ireland could be undermined by “stiffer competition from the Republic of Ireland”. Dublin had already recognised the potential of its dairy industry to help with the nation’s economic recovery.



Close co-operation between government and the industry in the Republic of Ireland had led to a strategy of growth based on exports. This would see a 50 per cent increase in milk production by 2020, said Dairy UK.



Dairy UK called for the UK government to emulate this model across the UK, but with particular emphasis on Northern Ireland. In ‘Action for growth’, it identified 12 policy areas which are key to the industry’s continuing success and where co-operation from government was essential.



The recommendations from greater funding for R&D and support for the introduction of new technology, to a review on nitrate vulnerable areas, action on reducing Bovine TB, farm restructuring and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.



As well as seeking assurances that laws will continue to support competition within the supply chain, and backing for a mandatory framework of country of origin labelling, Dairy UK wants government to get behind communication of the nutritional benefits of dairy products. It also wants government public procurement policies to favour domestic production.



Dairy UK would like the government to facilitate the development of export opportunities by helping to reduce the costs of exploring new markets. This could be achieved by centralising information on regulatory requirements in selected markets, it claimed.



Other action sought on exports included:



 




  • streamlining and simplifying the process of issuing export



     health certificates;



 




  • greater exchange of information on export opportunities; and



 




  • better co-ordination of UK presence at major trade shows.



 



Dairy UK also called for a reduction in unnecessary costs on the industry, which impeded its competitiveness, and a reduction in the regulatory burden on the sector.


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Business Development Executive, ROI

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Business Development Executive, ROI

Tel: +44 (0) 28 3839 0142

Mobile: +44 (0)79 8511 1024

E-Mail: jen.guiney@investni.com

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Geoff Spence
Business Development Manager

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Karl Devlin
Head of Business Development

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Mobile: +44 (0) 77 6739 3316

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Drew McIvor
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Michelle Charrington
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E-Mail: michelle.charrington@investni.com

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Shauna Magill
Editor & Content Manager / Twitter @lovenifood

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