Irish seafood sector could grow to billion-euro business by 2017 – BIM conference

Irish seafood

Irish seafood sector could grow to billion-euro business by 2017 – BIM conference

The Irish seafood sector has the potential to increase annual sales from €810m last year to €1bn by 2017 and to deliver 1,200 additional jobs, according to a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) organised industry conference in the Aviva Stadium today.

The ‘Capturing Ireland’s Share of the Global Seafood Opportunity’ conference will hear that the sector has focused in recent years on new markets in Asia where demand for quality seafood is showing phenomenal growth. Irish shellfish in particular is highly sought after in China and Hong Kong and exports to Asian markets have increased by 34pc.

Speaker Joe Gill, a director at Goodbody Ireland said he believes the sector faces similar issues to the Irish dairy industry in the 1980s such as quota restriction, a fragmented processing infrastructure, a limited international footprint and zero presence on the stock market.

“The dairy sector evolved by consolidating through investment,” he said. “The seafood sector should have the ambition to follow that route and taking a 10 year view, it is not unreasonable to target three stock market listed seafood companies based in Ireland but operating globally. To achieve this goal, the industry needs leadership, vision and capital.”

According to BIM, one of its major priorities is to assist the sector to build scale. The Irish seafood sector currently has 180 registered Irish seafood companies with processing facilities in Ireland. A large number of these companies are small-scale, often family-run firms with a turnover ranging from €3m to €10m. Meanwhile, typical European competitors have an average turnover in the order of €50 million.

“Ireland is being presented with opportunities for unprecedented sectoral growth that are largely dependent on our ability to produce and supply fish and related products to an increasing world population and its growing demand for seafood which will see the global requirement for fish grow by an additional 42 million tonnes per annum by 2030,” said BIM chief executive Jason Whooley.

“The opportunities being presented to industry can only be fully utilised if Ireland increases sustainability, competitiveness, grows industry scale and expands the raw material base.

“‘Irish seafood is considered a premium protein commodity on our key arkets. International companies are viewing Ireland as a realistic investment proposition and BIM will continue to facilitate strategic partnerships to enable thisinvestment to take place.”

The conference is expected to attract more than 200 delegates from industry and the investment and banking community and is the first national industry-wide event organised by the agency under its 2013 to 2017 strategy.

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