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Irish Seafood Sector Has Huge Potential For Growth

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Irish Seafood Sector Has Huge Potential For Growth

Irish Seafood Sector Has Huge Potential For Growth
April 08
11:46 2014

The Irish seafood sector has the potential to increase sales to €1 billion and deliver 1,200 additional jobs by 2017, according to a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (the Irish seafood industry development board). In recent years, the Irish seafood sector, worth €810 million in 2013, has concentrated 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 34%.

One of the major priorities for BIM 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 €3 million to €10 million. While these family-run businesses must remain an essential component of the Irish seafood landscape, it is in stark contrast to one of the typical European competitors with an average turnover in the order of €50 million.

Jason Whooley, chief executive of BIM, comments: “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. 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.”

Joe Gill, director of GoodbodyIreland, believes the sector faces similar issues to the Irish Dairy industry in the 1980’s. “The Irish seafood sector resembles the dairy industry in 1984 due to quota restriction, a fragmented processing infrastructure, a limited international footprint and zero presence on the stockmarket,” he explains. “The dairy sector evolved by consolidating through investment. The seafood sector should have the ambition to follow that route and taking a 10 year view, it is not unreasonable to target three stockmarket listed seafood companies based in Ireland but operating globally. To achieve this goal, the industry needs leadership, vision and capital.”

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