Posted on Tuesday 14 January 2014 by Ulster Business

Agri Outlook Breakfast pic 1

Danske Bank Head of Agricultural Relations John Henning and Chief Economist Angela McGowan are feeling good about food.

Northern Ireland's agri-food sector is predicted to experience 'above average' growth in 2014 and will rank among the top five performing sectors this year, according to forecasts from Danske Bank.

Danske Bank Chief Economist Angela McGowan said the bank expects the local agri-food sector to see growth of 3.8 per cent compared to the predicted average growth figure of 2.4 per cent across all sectors of the economy.

"The improved global economy, a growing world population and an expanding middle class in Asia all present Northern Ireland's agri-food sector with the opportunity to achieve high levels of export-led growth," she said.

"In the years ahead this sector will truly benefit from its growing collaboration with local universities and colleges on issues such as skills, food traceability and technological development – all of which will further improve the sector's competitive position.

"The local agri-food sector eagerly awaits the Northern Ireland Executive's response to its proposed "Going for Growth" strategy and there is widespread recognition from all players across this sector that partnership with government on issues such as brand perception, removing barriers to growth and policy development will allow this sector to go from strength to strength."

Danske Bank's Head of Agricultural Relations John Henning agreed that despite the significant challenges that 2014 could bring, the agri-food industry should continue to perform well this year.

He said: "While there is no doubt that 2014 will present its own challenges to the industry here in Northern Ireland – not least in terms of the weather, but also fluctuating exchange rates, budgetary pressures, interest rates, retailer power or industry succession – I am confident that farmers and agri-businesses should experience a generally positive 2014. The agri-food industry in Northern Ireland is strong, successful, capable and confident and I think this will reflect in the year ahead."



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