UK Secretary of State Owen Paterson told the Summit that it and the sector have a key role to play in unlocking the potential that exists in the UK and Irish economies – “economies that already benefit from a flow of people, goods and ideas”, he said.
“I want to work towards a plant and animal health biosecurity regime for both these islands, as part of our shared determination to strengthen our food and drink industries. By working together we can maximise the benefits to the food and drink industry in the UK and Ireland,” he told the Summit.
The food and drinks sector is a vital part of the UK economy, contributing £96bn and providing nearly 4m jobs. It is therefore vitally important that the right skills are in place for the future, as well as the right investments into research and development.
Leading companies were gathered together at the conference, which was hosted by Teagasc (the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority) and the Institute of Food Research (IFR), to discuss the economic importance of the food and drinks sector.
Key points from the summit:
• Identify more opportunities for developing a more entrepreneurial workforce through greater collaboration in development and training.
• Discussion on securing more investment, and hearing from the industry about how they feel governments can help, are crucial to the future of the sector.
• The UK exported £3.1bn-worth of food, feed and drink to Ireland in 2011 (17% of the UK total for the sector).
•The UK imported £3.5bn-worth of food and drink from Ireland (9% of UK food and drink imports).