Joe Ryan is to take over the leadership of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), Ibec has confirmed.

Ryan has worked with the meat industry lobby group since 2014 and succeeds long-serving director Cormac Healy who recently joined Drinks Ireland.

“I am extremely excited to lead MII in what is a period of huge opportunities for the industry, despite emerging economic challenges,” Ryan said.

“Within the Irish meat sector, the potential exists to further scale up activity and capacity to grow export value, delivering new revenues and jobs through value added processing in a sustainable manner,” he maintained.

Ryan’s appointment comes at a time of significant headwinds for the meat industry.

While exports last year across beef, lamb, poultry and pigmeat topped €4.5bn, the sector is facing multiple challenges.

These include continuing losses in the pig sector which are seriously threatening the viability of the country’s producers.

Brexit and the worsening differences on the Northern Ireland protocol are also worrying given that beef exports to the UK market were worth €880m last year and accounted for 42% of total sales.

Low incomes among drystock farmers, the hike in input costs, tighter environmental regulations and the rise in vegan diets are among the other issues that MII and farmers will have to address.