Spanish meat buyers to visit NI

Nineteen senior buyers from 11 of Spain's top red meat retailers and wholesalers will be visiting Northern Ireland next week to develop business with local suppliers.

The Spanish group, the biggest-ever red meat-buying mission to Northern Ireland, includes major international retailers, such as Carrefour and Eroski, along with representatives from companies based in many of Spain's top business centres.

The visit, organised jointly by Invest Northern Ireland and the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), follows a visit that both organisations organised for eight Northern Ireland meat processing companies to Madrid in May. It follows similar marketing initiatives to Italy and to Sweden and Denmark, which enabled seven Northern Ireland processors to develop business in these markets. The Italian mission produced over £20 million of new sales for Northern Ireland red meat processors

The Spanish buying delegation will be in Northern Ireland from 25 to 27 June for a range of activities, including 88 one-to-one meetings with local red meat companies in Invest NI's Belfast offices. The group will also be visiting a local beef farm, meat plants and a major supermarket. Meetings with industry representatives, including the Ulster Farmers' Union and NIAPA, have also been lined up.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI's food director, announcing details of the delegation with David Rutledge, LMC chief executive, said: "This is a very impressive delegation that includes top international retailers along with many of Spain's most important meat wholesale organisations.

"It's an excellent example of the work that we have been doing with partners such as the LMC in promoting Northern Irish food abroad and in creating opportunities for red meat processors, one of our most important sectors, to meet major European buyers on a one-to-one basis and thereby to expand export sales.

"I am confident that the achievements of previous buying visits from Italy and Sweden and Denmark, which generated new business worth more than £20 million, will be repeated when the Spanish delegation sees the quality of meat available from our processors," he added.

Rutledge said: "During this inward trade mission, we as an industry will be able to demonstrate our knowhow in real business environments and demonstrate the way our industry works, which will help to shape export strategies in another foreign marketplace".