Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
554. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the initiatives he has taken and proposes to take to develop new markets for the Irish pig farming sector; if he has met with relevant stakeholders on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27728/21]
Increasing international market access for Irish agri-food exports is a core element of the current Food Wise strategy, which recognises that market access and development is essential to add value to the meat sector in particular. The market development part of the strategy is being implemented by a seven-point action plan launched in April 2017.
In relation to pigmeat specifically, the work of the Department is focused not only on opening new markets but also on enhancing and retaining access to existing international markets. Market priorities are agreed with meat industry representatives each year and regular meetings are held to discuss developments and update them on progress. A recent example of new market access was the opening of the Mexican market for raw frozen pigmeat in May 2020.
In January 2021, the Department finalised the registration of five Irish pigmeat plants with the Vietnamese competent authority to export pork offal which should enable a further expansion of Ireland’s established pigmeat trade to Vietnam. The aim of market access work across all meat species is to ensure that the industry has viable outlets for all parts of the animal carcase which will satisfy a variety of consumer demands, tastes and price points in importing countries.
The success of the Department's market access efforts is reflected in CSO trade statistics which show that Ireland exports pigmeat to almost 60 countries with the top five destinations being the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Denmark and Germany. Cumulatively, these five destinations accounted for some 80% of pigmeat exports in volume terms in 2020. The value of pigmeat exports have also increased by almost 12% since 2017 with volumes remaining largely stable and averaging 278.000 tonnes annually over the same period. The portion of pigmeat exports going to third country markets outside of the EU and the UK has grown in volume terms from 37% in 2017 to 51% last year. In that same period, the total value of Irish pigmeat exports to those markets has increased by nearly €135 million, an increase of two-thirds in just four years.
Engagement with relevant stakeholders is ongoing and was recently expanded with the inaugural meeting on 28th April of the pig roundtable chaired by my colleague Minister of State Martin Heydon T.D.
Further information on my Department’s initiatives in opening and developing overseas outlets for the agri-food sector is available in the Market Access Report which is available on gov.ie.
The Market Access Portal on gov.ie provides details on the full range of open markets and the relevant certification conditions negotiated with importing countries for a wide range of agri-food product categories.