Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon attended a special trade event, organised by Bord Bia, to showcase Irish pigmeat on the first day of the agri-food trade mission to Malaysia and Philippines.

While Malaysia is a majority-Muslim country, and therefore has no market for pigmeat among much of the population, more than one-in-five people in the country are ethnically Chinese, who are considerable consumers of pigmeat.

Last year Malaysian pigmeat imports reached 33,500t. Ireland accounted for a tiny proportion of that, but Bord Bia have worked hard to increase that footprint, with local buyers and chefs taken on a tour of Irish farms and processors earlier this year.

Lisa Phelan, Bord Bia South East Asia Manager said “Bord Bia has been actively generating interest in Ireland as a supplier of high-quality pork among the Malaysian trade.

"Through local trade media outreach, we secured enquiries from interested buyers and initiated discussions with Irish suppliers.

"Following this, we had our first Malaysian buyer visit in June, which was very successful from a commercial perspective.”

Long-term relationships

She added that although Ireland is a relatively new trade partner, there is a commitment to developing long-term and sustainable trade relationships with Malaysian pigmeat customers.

Minister Heydon praised the progress made in Malaysia since market access was gained and said “this trade mission is strategically important to build upon this strong start as we continue to position Ireland as the supplier of choice for sustainable, safe and high-quality meat and dairy.”