Belfast Telegraph

Foster urges food industry to chase exports

By Margaret Canning

Chasing new opportunities will help Northern Ireland's £3bn food industry to grow, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has said.

The minister spoke of the important role played by the food and drinks sector when she opened the annual industry showcase IFEX 2012 at the King's Hall yesterday.

Food and drinks processing in Northern Ireland has annual sales of around £3.5bn - though the industry has said that could blossom to as much as £4.5bn.

And agriculture is one of the few winners in the downturn, with output growing by around 20% since 2007.

She said: "Food and drinks processing is Northern Ireland's most important manufacturing sector, and one that has continued to grow during the recession.

"There are enormous opportunities available in the sector and the Programme for Government has set a target of 20% growth in manufacturing exports by 2015."

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