‘Cooperation vital to tackle challenges facing agri-food industry’ – O’Neill

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Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
Business, Politics
There is a need to rethink the traditional understanding of the supply chain to rebuild trust across the agri-food industry. michelle4That was the key message today from Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to delegates at a high-level conference of producers, processors, retailers and other senior representatives connected to the north’s agri-food industry. Speaking as she opened the first meeting of the Supply Chain Forum, the Minister said, “The challenges we face provide a sharp focus on the nature and structure of the industry, particularly its vulnerability to the volatility of the global market. “While the current crisis is caused by factors beyond our control, their impact can be influenced by what we do. While we produce world class food and drink, there are things that we can do better to ensure we are rewarded for the quality of our products.” In her opening remarks, the Minister said, “Supply chains have become fragmented. This leads to insufficient margins for all. I want to see all players in the sector sharing equitably in the risks and rewards for their hard work. “There is a need to revisit the traditional understanding of a supply chain: to build strong relationships between producers, processors, retailers, the food service industry and other key players, such as banks and feed merchants; to improve transparency and communication; and to rebuild trust and confidence across the supply chain.” The Minister told those gathered that many of the industry’s long-term competitors come from outside the island of Ireland, and it is only by working together that we can we seek to compete globally. She added, “We have a clear strategy – called Going for Growth. It is based on the premise of a single supply chain – integrated, sustainable and profitable – focussed on delivering the needs of the market. It calls on government and industry to work together and is about adding value across the supply chain by meeting the customers’ needs. She added, “This requires a new approach, a new mindset even, to ensure we all work more closely. We need to produce the right food at the right time for our customers. “The only way to do this is by ensuring that all parts of the supply chain know what they are supposed to be doing and understand the impacts that their operations have on the rest of the supply chain. This can only be achieved through enhanced two-way, continuous communication.”

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