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Minister Wraps Up Initial Phase of US Trade Mission in Texas

Pippa Hackett (Credits: Green Party)

Pippa Hackett, a Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM), has wrapped up the initial part of a trade mission focused on agricultural and food products in the US.

Since she arrived in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, March 24, Minister Hackett, along with officials from Bord Bia, has been meeting with various importers of Irish agricultural and food products at different levels – wholesale, distribution, and retail. Additionally, some Irish food and beverage exporters have joined the mission.

In 2023, Ireland exported over €1.6 billion worth of agricultural and food products to the US, ranking it the second-largest global market. However, exports decreased 8% last year, mainly due to a decline in beverage exports (€690 million), resulting from excess stock in the market over the previous two years.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett (Credits: RTE)

Despite this decline, the US remains a critical export market for Irish beverages, constituting 42% of the total export value. Irish dairy exports to the US surpassed €684 million in 2023, a 1% increase from the previous year. Butter exports amounted to €310 million, while cheese exports grew by 25% to €85 million.

According to DAFM, this trade mission aims to diversify the markets for Irish produce, hence the choice of destinations like Austin and Houston in Texas and Seattle in Washington.

One of the main highlights of the trade mission was Minister Hackett’s keynote speech at a “Spirit of Ireland” event hosted by Bord Bia in Austin. During the event, she highlighted Ireland’s rich heritage in whiskey production and the resurgence of this traditional industry in rural Irish communities, with over 40 distilleries now operating in Ireland.

Minister Hackett (Credits: Agriland)

Minister Hackett also emphasized the unique characteristics of drinks with geographical indications (GI), such as Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream, and Irish Poitín.

Jim O’Toole, CEO of Bord Bia, mentioned that the Spirit of Ireland program primarily targets staff working in off-licenses and bars. He highlighted the importance of the US market for Irish drinks, representing almost 40% of the total export value, making it a crucial focus of this US trade mission. Minister Hackett will travel to Seattle on Tuesday, March 26, following meetings in Houston for further promotional events.

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