18 April 2014

Minister ONeill claims innovation is driving the success of the agri food sector


Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has claimed that innovation within the agri food sector will drive economic growth in the years ahead.

She was speaking at a one-day workshop entitled ‘Food for Thought’, which focused on how innovation, in product, process and marketing could help local companies within the sector open up markets outside the north of Ireland and thereby increase both sales and profitability.

The Minister challenged the food sector to be open to change and to consider innovation in its broadest terms. She said: “As our biggest manufacturing industry, food and drink can make an even greater contribution than the £3billion it already contributes to the local economy.

“By investing in new products, marketing techniques and processes, companies can strengthen their ability to compete successfully. Above all, profitably for business, particularly outside the local marketplace, and thereby ensure faster economic growth with the added benefit of new employment opportunities.”

The workshop held in the Loughry Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Cookstown, was attended by over 200 delegates from local companies. It was organised by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Invest NI.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food Director, commenting on the workshop, said: “Innovation is the lifeblood of business and the route to a stronger and more diversified private sector in Northern Ireland.

“We have many excellent examples of local companies that are prospering through a sharp commitment on innovation. The objective of this workshop is to encourage and help a great many more to follow their example.

“The event is also in line with Invest NI’s strategic focus on fostering innovation for international markets,” he added.

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