Why Ulster Bank is backing Balmoral
Today marks just 15 days until what is probably the biggest date in the calendar of the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland. Between May 13 and 15, tens of thousands of visitors will descend on Balmoral Park in Lisburn for the 147th annual Balmoral Show.
Agri-food is core to the Northern Ireland economy and Ulster Bank is delighted to be the principal sponsor of the show.
According to Invest NI, Northern Ireland's food and drink businesses already export to over 60 countries, from baby food to the Middle East, to specialist teas to Japan and Africa. But there are of course challenges.
The sterling-euro exchange rate is a particular issue at present for the local agri-food sector, making it less price-competitive in the Eurozone, notably the Republic of Ireland. However we have a great climate to grow grass, farmers who rear quality livestock, a sophisticated food processing sector with good routes to market and customers who demand the high quality, fully traceable food that NI provides.
Overall, the agri-food sector remains one of the most important sectors of the Northern Ireland economy, and it is a sector that needs high quality support.
That's why Ulster Bank earlier this year launched a comprehensive suite of tailored product solutions to meet the needs of Northern Ireland's food and drink sector. We have also just launched Northern Ireland's first pasture loan, available to both new and existing customers across Northern Ireland, to enable them to improve grassland management practices on their farms and increase profitability.
At Ulster Bank, we are passionate about the agri-food sector, and we do hope that you join us at this year's Balmoral Show to celebrate what is a very vibrant and successful industry at the heart of life in Northern Ireland.
Conor McKervey is Ulster Bank's senior agricultural manager