Over £55m in new sales for the Northern Ireland dairy industry, thanks to new export programme

The Dairy Council for Northern Ireland has reported a staggering £55.6 million in new sales of dairy products to markets in south-east Asia and the Middle East
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The Dairy Council for Northern Ireland has announced the completion of a round of EU and DCNI funded programmes that have driven £55.6 million in new sales of dairy products to markets in south-east Asia and the Middle East.

Implemented in two tranches over the last six years the programmes received investment in marketing support to the value of £2.6 million, driving sales in Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan.

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Dr Mike Johnston, chief executive of the Dairy Council, which was the only organisation in the UK agri-food sector to secure EU funding for export support, said while the programme is concluding, its legacy will provide for future opportunities for the industry.

He continued: “We had confidence in these export programmes from the outset, as structured with both outward and inward missions, they ensured potential customers got to see first-hand the professionalism and efficiency of Northern Ireland’s dairy industry and the high EU standards to which the dairy sector here operates as they walked the entire NI dairy supply chain.

"However, even our own projections were exceeded with the programme demonstrating a return of investment of 21.3:1; bringing remarkable value and establishing long-term relationships upon which trading channels between Northern Ireland and international markets can continue to thrive.”

The support and assistance offered by agencies and organisations across the sector, says Dr Johnston, made success possible even in the face of restrictions visited upon the programmes by Covid in the final years.

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“While the programmes did not stop entirely during the Covid era, restrictions did mean a delay with the postponement of both outward and inward missions. Throughout we have received invaluable support and assistance from our colleagues at DAERA, FSA, CAFRE and the Institute for Global Food Security at QUB. We are grateful to them and to everyone along the supply chain who helped us in highlighting its integrity and robustness, giving new overseas customers the confidence and trust to source their dairy products from Northern Ireland, thereby supporting our core aim of generating sales and, ultimately, contributing to the wider economy,” he concluded.