For the month of March, Bord Bia will use the global popularity of St Patrick’s Day to launch a programme of trade talks and promotional campaigns across 14 countries.

Irish food and drink exports reached over €13bn in 2020, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and Brexit.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, Minister of State Martin Heydon and Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy will lead a series of meetings with some of the industry’s key global customers across the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and North American markets.

Virtual trade mission to China

The trade engagements will culminate in a virtual trade mission to China that will include high-level customer meetings, and a seminar for Irish exporters featuring experts on the Chinese market across the meat, dairy, seafood and alcohol sectors.

Some of Bord Bia’s planned promotional activity includes an Irish beef and lamb promotion with 1,000 retail outlets across Germany and an online beef promotion with one of Italy’s largest retailers.

Bord Bia is also partnering with Tourism Ireland on a range of activities including a St Patrick’s Day at home digital festival in the Netherlands, featuring demonstrations from Chefs’ Irish Beef Club members and the creation of video content for Spanish TV cookery channel Canal Cocina, featuring Michelin star chef Mario Sandoval, who will be promoting Irish grass-fed Hereford beef at his restaurant.

In the UAE, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland will join forces for a series of promotional radio programmes.

In the UK, which accounts for 32% or €4.3bn of Irish food and drink exports, one of Bord Bia’s promotional activities will target over one million consumers through a collaboration with a number of high-profile chefs.

US and Japan

Further afield, Bord Bia’s New York office will host a virtual press event with renowned chef Dan Barber, previously appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the president’s council on physical fitness, sports and nutrition.

In Japan, Bord Bia is exhibiting at FOODEX, the largest annual food and beverage trade show in the country, and will directly target directly Japanese consumers in a series of in-market activities starting with an in-store promotion with the Aeon retail group.

In the Philippines, Bord Bia will lead a trade masterclass targeting food service and hotel industry food buyers and chefs.

Strategic response

Minister McConalogue said the programme of events is part of a strategic response to the challenges the agri-food and fisheries sector faces arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.

“Structured engagements with key business customers offer a real opportunity to communicate the premium quality of Ireland’s food and drink offering, to the benefit of all those along the supply chain, particularly farmers and fishers as our primary producers,” he said.

Minister Heydon said that St Patrick’s Day offers Ireland a unique global platform.

“As minister with responsibility for new market development, I look forward to engaging with key international customers across a range of food and drink sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and the behaviour of consumers,” he said.

Opportunity

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy added that despite the current restrictions internationally, Bord Bia has re-imagined its traditional St Patrick’s Day programme of activity to ensure it is using every available opportunity to support the Irish food, drink and horticulture sector at a time when they are facing unprecedented challenges amidst COVID-19 and trading in a post-Brexit era.

“In line with our market diversification strategy, this year we are placing particular importance on priority European and international markets,” she said.