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The lack of a functioning NI Executive risks stalling the food and drink industry’s progress on sustainability, political leaders were told at the 27th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) annual dinner.

Addressing over 250 industry and political leaders, George Mullan, NIFDA Chair and Managing Director of ABP in NI said that the lack of ministerial decision making has held the industry back, as firms develop strategies to meet emissions targets set by the NI Climate Act.

Held in partnership with KPMG Ireland, the NIFDA annual dinner took place at the Hilton Hotel, Belfast on Thursday 12th October, where Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Officer Simon Roberts was keynote speaker.

Speaking after the dinner, NIFDA Chair George Mullan said:

“Northern Ireland food and drink is globally renowned for its commitment to innovation, quality and commercial success. We are export focused and feed some 10 million people. Thanks to the ingenuity and tenacity of our food and drink companies, the industry has grown significantly and remains Northern Ireland’s biggest manufacturing sector.

“The biggest challenge we face at present is not just to continue that growth, but to do so in the most sustainable way. Industry wants to play its part in reducing climate emissions. Our customers demand it, consumers expect it, and it is the right thing to do.



“Reducing the environmental footprint of our industry also makes good commercial sense, as sustainability often goes hand in hand with efficiency. If we get sustainability right, we will not only reduce our emissions, but also improve our profitability and safeguard our industry for future generations.


“NIFDA members are already implementing bold strategies to reduce emissions at both factory and farm level. However, with ministers in place we could do even better. While we have emissions targets set by the NI Climate Act, the lack of a functioning Executive means we don’t have the political drive and policy coordination needed to meet these long-term ambitions.


“At NIFDA we leave politics to the politicians, but my message to local party leaders is this. We can lead the world on sustainable food production, we can grow this industry further while reducing its carbon footprint, but we need Ministers in place to work with us and fight our corner.”

Russell Smyth, Head of Sustainable Futures, KPMG Ireland said:

 “We are delighted to be supporting this year’s NIFDA annual dinner. Food and drink is one of Northern Ireland’s real success stories, and plays a key role in the local economy. However, like other sectors of the economy, it faces real challenges in responding to the climate and sustainability agenda. NI food and drink companies have already dedicated resources and teams to projects that tackle emissions and improve sustainability. KPMG Ireland is launching a report for NIFDA, based on a sector-wide survey, next month which will showcase work that has been done to date, and outline further steps that need to be taken for the industry to meet emissions targets under the NI Climate Act.”