Irish and UK Mushroom Conference Held
Harnessing Innovation was the theme of an all-Ireland and UK Mushroom Conference and trade show sponsored by Bord Bia.
18 October 2015
Last week delegates at the All Ireland and UK Mushroom Conference and Trade Show in Monaghan discussed how Ireland and the UK’s mushroom industries are ‘Harnessing Innovation’. The conference, sponsored by Bord Bia, brought together growers, scientists and suppliers from all 32 counties of Ireland, and again from the UK as well.
The event, themed ‘Harnessing Innovation’, was opened by Tom Hayes, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with special responsibility for Horticulture. Speaking at the event Minister Hayes said, “Accounting for almost 50% of the value of our edible horticultural output, the mushroom industry is by far the most important sector within Ireland’s horticultural industry. The strong export focus and high employment levels add further to the sector’s contribution to the Irish economy and especially the rural economy.”
He added “Irish mushroom growers are among the most technologically advanced and efficient in the world. The mushroom industry like every other sector in the modern economy must continue to strive to generate further efficiencies and to reduce overall costs.”
Minister Hayes was joined by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, who echoed his sentiments saying, “I’m encouraged to see Ireland and Britain coming together for this conference and trade show, to share experiences and help to drive the mushroom industry forward. I have always been a champion of our agri-food industry and am delighted to say it continues to be a significant growth sector for the local economy with turnover in the food and drinks industry heading towards £5 billion.”
Minister O’Neill highlighted an increase in employment of approximately 5% and increased exports of more than 7% according to recent studies. O’Neill said “Clearly, we need to have a thriving farm production sector if we are to maintain a thriving food processing sector. Mushroom growers, producers, packers, marketers and researchers are all key to that growth. Their optimistic approach and determination is to be applauded”.
Bord Bia estimates the combined North and South mushroom production has a farm gate value of€173 million. UK mushroom production is estimated be worth £115 million at farm gate level. The majority of Irish production is sold on the export market, with 80 percent exported each year. Bord Bia reported that mushroom sales remain steady both in Ireland and in the UK, Ireland’s most important export market.
According to Michal Slawski, Development and Marketing Specialist, Bord Bia, “Both the UK and Irish mushroom markets are showing steady growth, both in volume and in value. The UK market in particular is performing very well compared to the vegetable category as a whole. Mushrooms are growing in both value and volume, while vegetables are growing in volume but declining in price.”
He added, “The €2.7 million three year EU co-sponsored mushroom promotion in the UK and Ireland helps play its part by increasing sales in the target audience. The number of UK households buying mushrooms has increased by 600,000 and the proportion of households aged under 34 who buy mushrooms has increased by one third (Source: Kantar Worldpanel), during the three years of the More to Mushrooms, and the following first two years of the Just add Mushrooms campaign ”