UFU responds to DETI review of NI Agrifood marketing and promotion

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has submitted its response to the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) review of agri-food marketing and promotion in Northern Ireland. The review is as a result of a recommendation in the NI Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ strategic action plan.

UFU President Ian Marshall said; “Northern Ireland has a world class agri-food industry that produces top quality food and it is a completely missed opportunity if we do not market and promote it strongly, both here at home and further afield, to the best of our ability. Competition in world export markets is fierce and timing is everything. Already our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland and across the water in Scotland are blazing ahead with their food promotion activities and there is a very real chance that Northern Ireland will be left behind.

“In our response we have said that there is a need for a single agri-food marketing and promotion delivery mechanism within Government. We also believe that the Government must provide additional and meaningful funding for this initiative; however, we recognise that industry must contribute financially as well. Northern Ireland branding and labelling will be an integral part of promoting our industry and must be considered carefully. We also recognise that financial resources are finite so we must prioritise key markets with the most potential for growth.

“As a first step in this process, we believe that the existing industry marketing/promotion structures should continue but it is essential that there is better coordination of activity in conjunction with Government. Also, we need to explore opportunities for mutual benefit with similar promotional bodies such as ROI’s Bord Bia and Scottish Food and Drink. In the longer term, we can learn from these organisations and need to give consideration to a number of issues such as: a single vs. coalition structure; the inclusion of all commodities or only those wanting to get involved; and a legislative or voluntary approach to industry funding.

 

“Marketing our products and the promotion of our industry is crucial, especially as local and export markets become more and more competitive, and Northern Ireland needs a strong and dedicated voice championing its products. As one of the biggest and most successful industries in Northern Ireland, any investment to help grow and develop agri-food will ultimately benefit the local economy and Northern Ireland as a whole.”