Origin Green “really important” to penetrate markets

Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue said the Origin Green scheme designed by Bord Bia has been “really important” in bringing Irish produce to new markets.

The Minister was speaking during a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week, which coincided with Gulfood at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Gulfood is the world’s largest food and beverage trade show taking place February 13-17, 2022.

The Bord Bia stand at Gulfood 2022 welcomed 13 Irish exporters of meat, dairy and prepared consumer foods, such as Lakeland and Musgrave dairies, who are meeting with existing customers and also looking to develop new business relationships.

As part of the trade mission, Minister McConalogue will also visit the Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Theme Week at EXPO 2020 this week.

What is Origin Green?

Providing programs to farmers, growers, manufacturers and retailers, the Origin Green program is independently monitored and verified.

Verified Origin Green members represent 90% of Irish food and drink exports and over 70% of our domestic retail market.

Farm-level accreditation is provided to ISO:17065 and Carbon Trust (PAS 2050), while food and beverage manufacturers are independently verified by international auditors, Mabbett.

The program brings together government, the private sector and the entire supply chain, from farmers and food producers to the restaurant and retail sectors.

Minister McConaloogue said the Origin Green scheme plays a big part in the ‘benchmarks’ of Irish produce as they try to develop new markets.

The Minister said: “The Origin Green approach and brand has been very important over the past 10 years in getting to markets, in terms of selling and communicating what we have to offer, and communicating the differences that we have – the key selling points or unique selling points we have.

“It’s not just about doing it right, you also have to get that message across and prove to customers, communicate to customers, why our food should be preferred on their plate.”

The minister also said he felt the focus on Irish agribusiness now highlights the importance that Irish agriculture places on sustainability.

“Almost all of our customers, before Origin Green, knew the value of our food and how it was produced and that was important, but I think Origin Green has been a great way to bring that together and, very importantly, to verify it, so that it gives customers real confidence in the product they are buying and in its certification,” explained Minister McConalogue.

“I think we were way ahead of the game in terms of the corresponding brand that encapsulates our product and we’re still the only country in the world that has a national verification standard.”

Consumer demand

The Minister of Agriculture said that consumers’ understanding of sustainability in food production has really evolved and progressed in recent years.

“We are in a very good starting position in terms of what we sell. We have to keep bringing it to market and improving it,” he said.

“What we have to offer is quite unique. We are one of the few countries in the world to have a pasture-based system. We currently have a very strong positioning in the market because of this and it is something that we must leverage more in the years to come.

Exports to the Middle East

Total Irish food and drink exports to the Middle East amounted to €310 million in 2021, according to Bord Bia.

Dairy products and consumer prepared foods (PCF) are the two most valued categories in the region, with 272 million euros and 21 million euros respectively.

The two largest categories of Irish dairy products in the Middle East are fattened milk powder and infant food. The second largest category is cheese with Irish exports valued at €40.7 million, followed by butter at €16.3 million.

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