Article appeared in issue 1, 2020

Growth opportunities

A trade mission led by Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) to Algeria and Egypt in February is focused on exploring potential growth opportunities for Irish exports and enhancing market access

Growing and developing new markets for Irish food and drinks exports is a key response to the challenges posed by Brexit and one of the themes of the Food Wise 2025 strategy. At the beginning of February (1-6) officials from the DAFM and Bord Bia led a trade delegation to Algeria and Egypt. The objective of the mission is to progress opportunities for the Irish dairy and livestock sectors through Government to Government (G2G) and business to business (B2B) engagements, raising awareness of Ireland as a source of sustainable food and driving success and growth opportunities for Irish exporters.

Algeria, with a population of 41 million, has a dairy self-sufficiency of 40 per cent and is the third largest whole milk powder importer in the world. It also has a growing demand for cheddar. Total Irish agri-food exports to Algeria in 2018 amounted to €52 million, dominated by dairy exports, which have grown rapidly over the past few years. This trade mission seeks to expand on existing relationships between Irish suppliers and Algerian importers, and also to build new connections. 

Algeria imported approximately 90,000 live cattle in 2018, with France and Spain the main suppliers. While imports of livestock from Ireland have commenced following an inward visit by North African buyers last November, the trade mission offers the opportunity to develop relationships with key import organisations. 

Meanwhile, Egypt, (population 100 million), is the world’s 11th largest dairy importer and has an estimated dairy self-sufficiency of approximately 70-75 per cent. Irish agri-food exports to Egypt amounted to €33 million in 2018, with dairy and seafood the main export categories. Egypt also imports approximately 150,000 head of live cattle per annum, but it is a price-sensitive market.

Sustainability is a key message in Ireland’s agri-food sector, and, as part of this mission, ‘Sustainable Dairy Partnership’ seminars were held in both Algeria and Egypt. Ireland’s reputation will be enhanced through the delivery of keynote addresses on the positive features of the Irish dairy industry. The DAFM will also engage with both the Algerian and the Egyptian competent authorities with a view to further enhancing the terms of market access for both meat and livestock exports to those markets, as well as discussing possibilities for technical cooperation.