Sales bid prompts trip to Spain
Published:  21 May, 2008

Eight beef and lamb processors from Northern Ireland are visiting Spain in a bid to increase sales to the country's retail and foodservice sectors.

The companies will be in Madrid from 27-29 May on a visit organised jointly by Invest Northern Ireland and the Livestock & Meat Commission (LMC). It follows earlier trade visits to Sweden and Denmark and Italy.

Both missions led to visits to Northern Ireland by leading organisations in retailing, catering and foodservices. These initiatives have so far generated new business for Northern Ireland companies worth around £10 million.

It is expected that the mission to Madrid will lead to a visit to Northern Ireland by a delegation of Spanish buyers.

In Spain, the Northern Ireland group will be briefed about trends and opportunities by local food experts, will visit meat markets in the Spanish capital and then take part in a 'meet the buyer' event with potential customers.

The itinerary, organised with assistance from the Food from Britain office in Madrid includes meetings with retailers such as Eroski Hypermarket and Carrefour, wholesalers, an abattoir and a visit to a livestock farm.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI's food director, said: "We developed this programme of market visits with the LMC to assist local meat and lamb companies to develop existing and new contacts and thereby to increase their business in key European markets.

"It's proving to be an immensely successful joint initiative in terms of business already secured and contacts made that will, in time, lead to further substantial contracts for local producers.

"Attracting buying teams to visit Northern Ireland and to see our excellent processing facilities and the variety of quality products is an important aspect of the initiative. It enables them to see for themselves that good food really is in our nature in Northern Ireland."

David Rutledge, LMC chief executive, added: "These trade missions provide businesses with excellent opportunities, to visit foreign markets, establish sales leads and find out how business is done overseas. Taking part in an overseas event is an invaluable and effective way to meet contacts and customers face to face it is an international gate-opener for red meat businesses throughout Northern Ireland."

The Northern Ireland companies on the mission to Spain are: ABP, Lurgan; Doherty and Gray, Ballymena; C&J Meats, Armagh; Dunbia, Dungannon; Hewitt Meats, Armagh; Linden Foods, Dungannon, and WD Meats, Coleraine.