Northern Ireland has the potential to be the world’s leading sustainable food producer, political leaders were told at the 26th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) annual dinner.
Addressing some 250 industry and political leaders, NIFDA Chair and Managing Director of ABP Food Group NI George Mullan said that with the right support, and a stable political environment, Northern Ireland food and drink can play a key role in meeting climate targets, growing the local economy and boosting UK food security.
Held in partnership with HSBC UK, the event took place at Belfast’s Hilton Hotel on Thursday 20th October, where Henderson Group Joint Managing Director Martin Agnew was keynote speaker.
Speaking after the dinner, NIFDA Chair George Mullan said:
“One of the biggest challenges we face as an industry is the need to continue to feed a growing world population in the most sustainable way. Addressing climate change and reaching net-zero emissions is a key priority for governments globally, and an increasing concern for citizens and consumers.
“Northern Ireland food and drink has the track record when it comes to innovation, quality and commercial success, so we have the tools to make Northern Ireland the world leader in sustainable food production. Across the entire sector, firms are already working to make this happen, developing more sustainable products and implementing strategies on farm and the factory floor to lower carbon emissions. We are rising to the challenge, but we cannot do it by ourselves. Political stability is key, and we need a functioning Executive back at Stormont with ministers to work with us and fight our industry’s corner.
“Likewise, we need the UK government to fight for the interests of the UK’s food and drink sector at trade negotiations. Events of the past year have brought into sharp focus the importance of food security as the ongoing war in Ukraine continues to have an impact on the food system globally.
“With stable politics and the right support, we have the potential to lead the world on sustainability, address the balance of trade in food and boost the local economy in the process.”
Allan Wilkinson, Head of Agrifoods at HSBC UK said:
“We are once again delighted to sponsor the annual NIFDA dinner. HSBC UK work in partnership with an increasing number of farming and food processing businesses across Northern Ireland, as well as related industry professionals. In order to support our customers and the wider industry, it is vital that we have insights into the issues they are facing, both in the short and longer term. As an industry we recognise the need to produce food in more sustainable ways and to better utilise the natural resources available to us. As such, we are working to share best practice within the whole sector to help drive a transition to a lower carbon economy, and supporting businesses that are embarking on their green journey.”
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland The Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP said:
“Northern Ireland’s food and drink industry plays a vital role in the Northern Ireland economy.
“The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association carries out important work in supporting its members and strengthening Northern Ireland’s position as a leading producer of quality food and drink produce.
“I’m delighted to have been able to attend tonight and I look forward to continue to work with NIFDA and others across the sector, as we work to make Northern Ireland an even better place to live, work, invest, and do business.”