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Sinn Féin question ability of FSIP to "grow sales internationally"

22 February, 2005

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the enthusiasm of the Food Strategy Implementation Partnership (FSIP) but questioned their ability to 'grow sales internationally' without using the clean green Irish image as an international brand.

Ms Gildernew said:

"While I welcome the clear enthusiasm of the FSIP and their clear identification that 'the ultimate measure [of success] will be to grow sales internationally' I would question their ability to do this without using the clean green Irish image as that is already established as an instantly recognisable international brand.

"Throughout the 'Fit for Market' report there is no recognition of the ability of the North to establish a genuine brand. The north of Ireland is seen throughout the world as part of the Ireland. For us to continue to try and get a food hold in international markets without positively making strategic alliances with Irish promotional organisations is at least blinkered.

"Surely the food and processing industry has seen the benefits of putting quality Irish food on the world stage. There is now a consensus throughout the processing and food world, alongside the political spectrum that the North must go it alone in seeking the removal of the beef export ban.

"The UK has a large domestic market which is controlled by a small number of large supermarkets, Ireland exports 80% of its food products, we are very dependant on international markets, for this reason the FSIP must look again at its strategy and input throughout its recommendations the need for a common approach in selling our food on the world stage as Irish." ENDS

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