FDII predicts jobs boost of 30,000
Ireland's food industry will create 30,000 new jobs by 2020, it has been claimed.
Business group Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) maintained the right government policies would ensure the sector will also deliver ambitious exports of 12 billion euro within the next eight years.
One in eight jobs - 230,000 - are already linked to the country's agri-food sector, which spends almost eight billion euro on goods and services each year.
FDII director Paul Kelly said the food and drink sector is deeply embedded in the Irish economy.
"That means that an increased focus on food will drive growth in the wider economy as well as in the sector itself," he said. "The food sector spends 7.9 billion euro, or 76% of its total expenditure, on Irish goods and services. This represents a significantly higher contribution to the domestic economy than in any other area of manufacturing.
"If we increase exports to 12 billion euro, the sector will potentially deliver in the region of 30,000 jobs across the whole economy due to the proportionate increase in spend by the sector."
Measures it claimed will maintain competitiveness of the sector include ensuring a sustainable supply of cost-competitive raw materials, influencing the redevelopment of the European Union state aid regime after 2012 and putting the proposed grocery code in place immediately after primary legislation is enacted.
It also said it wants a genuine approach to nutrition and obesity based on scientific evidence rather than ineffective polices such as advertising restrictions and discriminatory taxes FDII detailed in its report Sharing the Harvest: The Food and Drink Sector Jobs Dividend.
It outlines how to achieve ambitious targets and the needs for the sector, including financing facilities to support expansion and the development of new companies.
"The sector's exports have already rebounded from lows experienced in 2007 and reached a new high last year," added Mr Kelly. "However, continued export growth and the accompanying job creation are only possible if public policy is aligned with the needs of the sector."