Simon Coveney to lead Ireland’s biggest trade mission to Gulf region

Forty food and drink companies and equine interests take part in visit to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Qatar will be the trade mission’s first port of call.

Qatar will be the trade mission’s first port of call.


Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney will lead Ireland’s biggest ever trade mission to the Gulf region when he leaves for Qatar tomorrow.

Some 40 food and drink companies and equine agencies are taking part in the mission, which will also take in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi over a five-day period.

Mr Coveney will meet political counterparts, government officials and food-buyers and equine interests.

He said that there was huge potential for Ireland’s equine sector in the Gulf in terms of thoroughbred breeding, sport horse provision and as a source of equine education. The Qatari royal family has been spending large sums of money on thoroughbred horses in recent times, and last week it emerged that the family had bought a 100-acre stud farm in Croom, Co Limerick.

New hub
Mr Coveney said this mission was the biggest “by miles” the State had ever undertaken in the region, and was being held because the Gulf region had the potential to be a new hub of growth for the agri-food sector.

Last year Ireland exported more than €200 million worth of food and drink to the Gulf region. Dairy products and ingredients accounted for most of our food exports, with Saudi Arabia importing €95 million worth of Irish dairy products.

Other Irish products consumed in the Gulf region include beef, farmhouse cheeses, poultry, oysters, salmon, potatoes, eggs, chocolate and herbs.

Among those companies involved in the trade mission are Glanbia, ABP and Kepak, as well as Bord Bia and the Irish Dairy Board.

Mr Coveney said while these countries were cash-rich, they had huge concerns about food security because they relied on imports. Ireland was perfectly placed to guarantee a safe and reliable supply of food.