Representatives from Bord Bia, the Department of Agriculture and 17 Irish food companies will travel to Iran on Friday to explore the trading opportunities there.

The lifting of international sanctions in Iran opens the way for Irish food exporters to trade in the second largest economy in the Middle East.

As its economy grows and demand for premium food products outstrips domestic supply, Iran is looking to countries like Ireland to supply high-quality, safe and sustainably produced food, according to Aidan Cotter, CEO of Bord Bia.

"While challenges still exist for Irish companies supplying the market, we will work with them during this visit to explore new openings and ensure that as impediments to trade recede Irish exporters can access the market early, build fruitful relationships and grow their businesses in tandem with economic growth.

"While the main focus of this visit will be on the dairy and prepared foods, where the most immediate opportunities are perceived to exist, I expect it will pave the way for future direct engagement across other sectors," he said.

During the trade mission, Bord Bia will facilitate one-to-one meetings between 100 targeted Iranian food buyers and Irish exporters as the next step in building new trading relationships. Arrabawn, Kerry Group, Glanbia and Lakeland Dairies are just some of the companies travelling to Iran.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that the mission will be "key to re-introducing Irish companies to the Iranian market and buyers and will no doubt pave the way for greater collaboration with Irish exporters."

The Department of Agriculture, along with Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI) and Bord Bia, will meet senior representatives of the Ministry for Agriculture to discuss trade opportunities for Irish beef, sheepmeat and dairy.

Department officials will also visit Ankara for discussions with their Turkish counterparts on developing trade between both countries. A departmental delegation is also in Morocco and Algeria next week to discuss bilateral trade, including the opening of those markets for live cattle from Ireland.

Trade with Iran

Ireland's food and beverage exports to Iran in 2015 amounted to €3.6m, consisting mainly of juices, butter and prepared foods, according to Bord Bia. While exports of dairy produce, including infant formula, were a feature in the past, this trade has suffered in recent years.

Access for Irish beef was secured in April 2012, and the Department has been engaging with the Iranian authorities for some time to finalise the arrangements which will allow for the opening of the sheepmeat trade.

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