Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture for new market access Martin Heydon TD is leading an Irish trade mission to Mexico this week.

His trip to the North American country is aimed at enhancing the export market for Irish agricultural produce, including pigmeat.

Ireland first gained market access to export pigmeat to Mexico in 2020.

Minister Heydon will be joined by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy and the Embassy of Ireland for meetings with senior ministers of the Mexican government and members of the Mexican National Agricultural Council on Friday.

The minister will also host a business dinner for key members of the Irish business and agri-food business community in Mexico.

Speaking from Mexico, Minister Heydon said the country is “an important and growing market for Irish agri food”.

“It is especially timely to visit just as the first shipment of Irish pork arrives in Mexico.

"My Department is working closely with their counterparts to enhance market access for Irish agri-food exports, including expanded access for pigmeat products, and this trade mission is an opportunity to raise these requests at political level,” he said.

Bord Bia campaign

The minister’s presence in Mexico comes while Bord Bia is promoting its €3.8m EU pork campaign in Mexico city to build awareness of Ireland as a supplier of high-quality, safe and sustainably produced pork.

The three-year campaign - European Pork and Poultry: Excellence in Quality Assurance and Food Safety - focuses exclusively on pork for Mexico and targets a population of 126m people.

To promote the €3.8m campaign, Bord Bia invited Mexican government officials and food industry representatives, including top importers, distributors and wholesalers, to an EU pork seminar at the Irish embassy in Mexico city.

The first in-person event since Ireland first gained pigmeat market access featured presentations on Irish pork and production.

Preparing to welcome @martinheydonfg to Mexico City to launch Bord Bia's €3.8 million EU Pork campaign, European Pork and Poultry: Excellence in Quality Assurance and Food Safety, to build awareness of Ireland as a supplier of high-quality, safe and sustainably produced pork.

— Irish Food Board (@Bordbia) April 28, 2022 " target="_blank">Clickable Text Here

Bord Bia’s Europe and North America director Noreen Lanigan said: “Bord Bia’s consumer research shows us that while pork has always been an important part of the Mexican diet, greater urbanisation and a growing middle class with rising consumer incomes who have an interest in food safety have helped drive the sharp increase in pork demand.

“We also know that there is both a strong demand for quick and easy-to-use pork solutions, along with an appetite for premium pork cuts, particularly among younger Mexican consumers.”

Lanigan said that the campaign will “build awareness and understanding” of the food safety, quality assurance and sustainability credentials of European and Irish pork and highlighted that Irish pork is “well positioned” to supply this increasing demand.

Female entrepreneurs

While in Mexico on Friday, Minister Heydon will also launch a new initiative to provide support for female entrepreneurs in the country.

This female rural entrepreneurs' programme is jointly funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Minister Heydon said: “The programme, which builds on Ireland’s strong international relationship with FAO and draws experience from our successful ACORNs programme in Ireland, will focus on empowering female entrepreneurs in the Mexican state of Jalisco through mentorship and peer support, improving and enhancing engagement in the rural economy and increased resilience.

“In Ireland, our Food Vision 2030 strategy calls out the key role of women in our farming and food communities, but acknowledges that their contribution needs to be better recognised and supported.

“I am so pleased that the model developed by ACORNS, with new entrepreneurs gaining practical advice from a mentor and sharing learnings with their peer group, which has supported so many of our fantastic female entrepreneurs at home, will now begin in Mexico.”