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Minister Says Industry a Major Asset to Economy

by 5m Editor
6 September 2011, at 11:04am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O'Neill has opened the biennial conference of the Poultry Industry Education Trust today.

Addressing the audience and speakers from North and South America, England and Ireland the Minister highlighted the valuable contribution of the poultry sector to the local economy.

She said: "Poultry meat and eggs contribute around 18 per cent of gross agricultural output and consumes one-third of the compound feed trade here. With an estimated turnover of almost £629 million, the poultry meat industry provides 17 per cent of the gross turnover of the food and drinks processing sector and more than 5,500 full- and part-time jobs."

In 2010, 105 million chickens were processed here, together with 1.5 million turkeys. Current production of hatching eggs in the north stands at four million per week, of which 1.2 million are exported. As well as packers of shell eggs, the industry here also includes producers of processed eggs such as pasteurised liquid egg for further processing and boiled eggs for pre-packed sandwiches and salads.

Minister O'Neill added: "Primary production of poultry meat and eggs is an important contributor to income on a significant number of farms across the province, nearly all of which are family businesses. They form the basis of our efforts to ensure a sustainable and profitable industry."

Acknowledging the business pressure faced by the poultry industry, the Minister continued: "This industry is a major asset to our economy and in these challenging economic times there are many drivers for change impacting upon it. Compliance with EU regulations, rising input costs, and consumer demand for competitively priced products that are healthy and reared with high regard to welfare, put pressure on it to come up with ever more innovative ideas.

"I trust today's conference will provide a useful opportunity for discussion around these challenges and will also provide delegates the opportunity to exchange ideas around sustainable and profitable poultry production," she said.