Northern Ireland

Arlene Foster announces new agri-food marketing body for NI

Arlene Foster pictured promoting products from the NI agri-food industry Image copyright DETI
Image caption DETI Minister Arlene Foster said the food and drink sector was hugely important to the Northern Ireland economy and the new body would help to promote growth

A new marketing body is to be set up to promote Northern Ireland's food and drinks industry, in a bid to grow the agri-food sector and create more jobs.

The move was announced by Stormont's Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) Minister Arlene Foster.

She said Northern Ireland's agri-food industry was "hugely important", with almost 100,000 jobs including farming, fishing, retail and distribution.

The marketing body will be developed by the Agri-Food Strategy Board (AFSB).

'Pivotal role'

Ms Foster said: "The establishment of a new industry-led agri-food marketing body, which would be similar to the already successful Scotland Food and Drink, will provide a significant and exciting opportunity for the Northern Ireland agri-food industry to work together for the benefit of the entire sector.

"This body will play a pivotal role in providing strategic leadership and direction for the marketing activities of both government and private sector organisations."

Stormont's Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill welcomed the announcement.

"Agri-food is one of the key sectors in delivering export-led economic growth for the north," she said.

She said industry representatives had made it clear that there was "a need for better coordination of current marketing activities" in Northern Ireland.

However, Ms O'Neill added that while the new body was "clearly a positive step", the plans could have "implications for the work of other organisations", including her own department.

She said she looked forward to discussing the plans with AFSB.