Food exporters urged to sign charter


PRODUCERS OF almost half of all Irish food and drink exports have signed up to the Origin Green environmental charter since it was introduced by Bord Bia in June.

The voluntary programme involves manufacturers setting targets in areas such as emissions, energy, waste, water and biodiversity.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said the 60 companies already signed up included Kerry Foods, Diageo, Irish Distillers and Glanbia. He was aiming to get every Irish food and drink manufacturer committed to the sustainability charter by 2016.

Mr Cotter said the importance of differentiating Irish products from their rivals was highlighted by the “extreme price volatility” that was characterising the sector.

The US drought and difficult harvest conditions have led to a strong surge in global corn and soya bean prices, which is affecting the cost of producing meat and dairy products.

“Exports this year have been affected by the adverse weather conditions, poor grass growth, and the rising cost of inputs, which farmers across all enterprises have to contend with.”

Mr Cotter said the situation was most acute in the pig meat sector because of its high feed costs.

He said the volatility in the sector would probably cause the value of Irish food exports to drop by 1 or 2 per cent this year from last year’s figure of €8.85 billion. The strongest performing exports this year were expected to be meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables and, to a lesser extent, beverages.

IFA national grain chairman Noel Delany said grain growers were facing significant losses, with winter wheat yields back by almost 30 per cent and in some extreme cases 50 per cent.

He said farmers also had to contend with substantially increased fuel and fertiliser costs.