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Global investment in Irish seafood Sector to deliver €1 billion sales, 1,200 jobs by 2017
April 16, 2014, 04:28 PM
The Irish Seafood Sector has the potential to increase sales to €1 billion and deliver 1,200 additional jobs by 2017 according to a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) organised industry conference today titled ‘Capturing Ireland’s Share of the Global Seafood Opportunity’ in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

In recent years, the Irish Seafood Sector, worth €810 million in 2013, has concentrated on new markets in Asia where demand for quality seafood is showing phenomenal growth. Irish shellfish in particular is highly sought after in China and Hong Kong and exports to Asian markets have increased by 34 per cent.

One of the speakers at the event, Joe Gill, Director, Goodbody Ireland believes the sector faces similar issues to the Irish Dairy industry in the 1980’s: "The Irish Seafood sector resembles the dairy industry in 1984 due to quota restriction, a fragmented processing infrastructure, a limited international footprint and zero presence on the stockmarket. The dairy sector evolved by consolidating through investment. The seafood sector should have the ambition to follow that route and taking a 10 year view, it is not unreasonable to target three stockmarket listed seafood companies based in Ireland but operating globally. To achieve this goal, the industry needs leadership, vision and capital."

One of the major priorities for BIM is to assist the sector to build scale. The Irish seafood sector currently has 180 registered Irish seafood companies with processing facilities in Ireland. A large number of these companies are small-scale, often family-run firms with a turnover ranging from €3 million to €10 million. While these family-run businesses must remain an essential component of the Irish seafood landscape, it is in stark contrast to one of the typical European competitors with an average turnover in the order of €50 million.

Jason Whooley, BIM’s Chief Executive outlined the opportunities for the sector and the agency’s plans to assist the ‘scaling up’ of the industry: "Ireland is being presented with opportunities for unprecedented sectoral growth that are largely dependent on our ability to produce and supply fish and related products to an increasing world population and its growing demand for seafood which will see the global requirement for fish grow by an additional 42 million tonnes per annum by 2030. The opportunities being presented to industry can only be fully utilised if Ireland increases sustainability, competitiveness, grows industry scale and expands the raw material base. In terms of scale, Mr Whooley also stressed the inward investment opportunities for the sector; ‘Irish seafood is considered a premium protein commodity on our key markets. International companies are viewing Ireland as a realistic investment proposition and BIM will continue to facilitate strategic partnerships to enable this investment to take place."

The conference is expected to attract more than 200 delegates from industry and the investment and banking community and is the first national industry-wide event organised by the Agency under its strategy 2013-2017. The conference’s speaker line-up includes key international seafood players and investment experts giving delegates access to business heavyweights operating nationally and internationally at the top of the seafood and agri-food sectors.

Irish Oyster Sector Benefits from an Increase in Production and Employment

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) in partnership with Irish Farmers Association (IFA) Aquaculture hosted an informative conference on Ireland’s oyster industry in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, on the 20 March.

Aimed at oyster producers around the coast, the one day event included a series of talks and panel discussions on all aspects of this important sector including current research projects, BIM business support programmes, industry perspectives and the marketing of Irish oysters to existing and new international markets.

Paudie Coffey, T.D. delivered the opening address and highlighted the importance of this sector to the economy: "Ireland produces premium quality oysters that demand a high price on our key overseas markets particularly France and the Far East. This achievement is testament to the hard work of our oyster producers around the coast who have worked hard to achieve a high level of quality assurance with assistance from BIM. I am particularly pleased to learn here today that production has increased to 8,700 tonnes as has employment with the sector now supporting 1,100 jobs nationally. With Waterford accounting for 40 per cent of the overall production this is good news for the local community and the economy as a whole."

The farming of pacific oysters (the most common oyster species farmed in Ireland) only began in Ireland in the 1970’s so it is still a relatively young industry. However, it has grown considerably in the last 35 years and is now a thriving business with production levels increasing to 8,700 tonnes in 2013 in addition to a rise in employment from 870 in 2010 to 1,100 in 2013. The sector also contributes almost €50 million to Ireland’s seafood exports. France remains the key export country for Irish oysters with Hong Kong now the second most important destination. Irish oysters are currently demanding an average price of €5.50/kg.

Research papers on native and pacific oysters carried out by University College Cork, the Marine Institute, Queen’s University Belfast and Bournemouth University were presented at the conference in addition to industry perspectives from Jim Harty, Dungarvan Shellfish and Iarfhlaith Connellan, Redbank Shellfish.

Donal Maguire, BIM Director for Aquaculture Development outlined BIM’s plans for the sector: "We will be continuing to work with our producers to assist them to grow and develop their businesses. There are excellent opportunities for branded quality assured Irish oysters in the market place in the EU and further afield. Through the provision of technical, financial and business development assistance, BIM aims to ensure that Irish growers are best placed to take advantage of the current favourable environment."

In 2013, against a background of challenging global and domestic market conditions, Ireland’s seafood sector continued to grow and trade impressively with the overall sector worth €810 million and the export market worth €484 million. Overall exports were down on the previous year but shellfish exports proved to be the exception with a five per cent increase on 2012 and a total value of €168 million.

Source: (thefishsite)
Kim Thu
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