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O’Neill welcomes the latest positive figures on the local food and drinks processing sector

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has today welcomed newly released figures which indicate continuing growth of the local food and drinks processing sector.
Thursday, 31 July 2014

The figures were published in the annual report, ‘Size and Performance of the NI Food and Drinks Processing Sector, Subsector Statistics 2012, with provisional estimates for 2013’.

The Minister said: "The food and drinks processing sector recorded continuing growth in turnover, employment and exports between 2011 and 2012. This is particularly welcome in a demanding and competitive global market place. The figures underline the importance of our local food and drinks processing sector and its contribution to the local manufacturing sector and wider economy. Growth in the food sector has been unbroken over the last ten years and more. This sector clearly has the potential to grow further."

The Minister continued: "The ‘Going for Growth’ report will continue to play a guiding role in maximising the potential of the sector. As I recently announced, the Executive has endorsed the industry’s growth aspirations, agreed government’s response to the report and given its backing to my proposals to allocate significant funding in support of Agri-Food sector growth, including a Farm Business Improvement Scheme, in the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

"The work undertaken at the CAFRE Loughry Campus continues to be very important to the sector. Food courses, up to degree level, delivered by CAFRE provide a highly skilled pool of potential employees and managers for local food and drinks processing businesses. CAFRE also provides a range of technical support services for food businesses and the new Food Innovation Centre is moving ever closer to completion during 2015."

The Minister concluded: "I am also very encouraged by the strong interest that has been shown by the industry in the Processing and Marketing Grant (PMG) Scheme run through the last Rural Development Programme. While this scheme is now closed for the 2007-2013 funding programme, I recently announced that the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 would have a new successor scheme. This scheme will play a key role in helping the industry expand by improving and developing economic performance in both local and export market places."

Notes to editors:

  1. The report was produced by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
  2. The report and time-series data from 1989 – 2012/2013, may be downloaded from the DARD website.
  3. If a hard copy of the report is required, it may be obtained at a cost of £6 from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Policy and Economics Division, Room 656, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Ballymiscaw, Belfast BT4 3SB.
  4. All media enquiries to DARD Press Office, Tel. 028 90524619. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.