The Republic of Ireland’s farm and food minister, Michael Creed, has issued a defiant UK export message to his country’s farmers and traders, telling them that the Irish industry will not be “surrendering hard won supermarket shelf space” in Britain, despite the “significant challenges” which have emerged as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
Minister Creed, speaking at SIAL Paris earlier this week, delivered his upbeat message to a crowded gathering on the Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) stand at the big international food fair, urging the farmers and traders present to be willing to “adapt and change” to meet the new challenges of the Brexit era.
“We have very significant challenges in our nearest market, the UK, but I want to assure the (Irish) industry that we have an approach that is informed by the industry itself,” he said. “We have a stakeholders’ forum working with my own department and we have Bord Bia, all of which is designed to assist companies as they put their toe in the water in terms of both new and existing export opportunities in the UK.”
He also promised that his department is ready to lead Irish farm sector efforts to defend its trading position in the UK market, starting with a series of meetings with some of the UK’s multiple retailers.
“I will be telling tell them that although politically the landscape may be undergoing significant change, we are not about to walk away from our nearest marketplace and that we will continue to be available for, and open to, business with the UK,” he said.
“We are not surrendering hard won supermarket shelf space simply as a consequence of a vote by the UK to leave the EU.
“Yes, it brings challenges, but if there is one hallmark of the Irish agricultural industry it is its flexibility to adapt and change and to meet new challenges. We’ve done that in the past and in the context of Brexit we’re definitely up for that again.”
Headline image shows Bord Bia’s high profile Origin Green stand at SIAL