Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Development of the Sheep Sector: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Mark Christal:

On the first question the Deputy raised about export potential, there are two important points. If you look at our export figures, food and drink exports are huge in terms of the overall scale of our exports, at around 50% of our €30 billion. Exports drive a lot of employment across the sector. On the Deputy's point about the domestic focus, local enterprise offices, LEOs, have a remit and a mandate. We work very closely with them to support companies with a domestic focus. In the case of the company the Deputy mentioned, supports are available for domestically focused companies through the local enterprise office, particularly for smaller companies starting up, which I think fits the description of that company. There are 31 LEOs, at least one in every county in Ireland. That company should engage with its local enterprise office to see what is available. We support companies with a degree of domestic sales. They become an Enterprise Ireland client if there is export potential, long term. The trigger between Enterprise Ireland and the LEO is not just the size of the company, it is also the potential growth of the company. The primary point in respect of domestically focused companies is that is what local enterprise offices do. It should be explored in the case of that company to see what is helpful.

In respect of the questions about lamb, Australia and New Zealand and export potential, we need to refer and defer to our colleagues in Bord Bia, who can give a more comprehensive answer in respect of both of those areas, particularly on the market side. We can come back to the committee about it.