Bord Bia is to be given additional resources to establish an office in Vietnam – one of the fastest-growing dairy markets in Asia – following
the lifting of EU milk quotas.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is understood to have secured funding for the agency to base key personnel there as part of a wider Government initiative to strengthen trade links with emerging markets.
The office is likely to be in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh, which is regarded as the country’s economic engine. Its chief task will be to promote “better branding of Ireland” in the region.
With milk production here expected to rise by 50 per cent now quotas have been lifted, establishing a foothold in Asian markets is seen as essential.
The move is viewed as a necessary widening of the Irish dairy sector's focus on China, the centre of Asia's so-called white gold rush. Bord Bia has had an office in Shanghai since 2007.
With a population of 93 million, Vietnam’s dairy industry is worth over $6 billion (€5.5 billion), making it the largest market in southeast Asia. Vietnam has turned away from its traditional diet of rice and vegetables to embrace Western diets, with dairy consumption rates surging on the back of rising income levels .
However, only 20 per cent of its dairy demand is supplied by the domestic industry with remainder imported from countries such as New Zealand and the US. The move to establish an Irish foothold in Vietnam also comes against a backdrop of ongoing talks between the EU and Hanoi aimed at forging a free trade pact.
Bord Bia's plan appears to have been accelerated by a recent trip to the country by members of the Public Accounts Committee, who were there to examine Ireland's aid programme.