20 Sep 2017 | 10.44 am
Chinese Delegation Checks Out Bord Bia’s Origin Green
20 Chinese government officials at the Ploughing
20 Sep 2017 | 10.44 am
Chinese government officials met Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy at the agency’s stand at the National Ploughing Championship to discuss Origin Green, the national sustainability programme for the Irish food industry, with a view to explaining how the standards benchmark helps the food industry comply with Ireland’s demanding food safety standards.
The visiting group from China included delegates from the Chinese Food and Drug Administration, Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Certification and Accreditation Administration, and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Bord Bia stand this year focuses on the Origin Green programme and the framework it provides to farmers and food producers in the challenging trading environment brought about by Brexit.
McCarthy said: “Origin Green’s success story is one of farmers, processors, exporters and government working together to deliver quality food that is independently verified for its sustainability impact. Farmers are critical to the success of the programme, providing the ‘proof points’ on-farm which are demanded by our food buyers and their consumers, who increasingly want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced.
“Proving our sustainability was never more important than it is today. Origin Green provides farmers with a structure within which to increase their competitiveness by lowering their carbon footprint and thereby cut the running costs of their enterprises. It is also creating new opportunities for exporters in traditional and emerging markets where the demand for sustainably produced food from buyers and their customers continues to increase.”
Chinese interest is double-edged, with the delegation interested in evaluating the Irish standards and their application in respect of food imports to the country, and also in respect of the Chinese authorities further developing their own internal food safety regime.
The Origin Green initiative is in its fifth year and is one of the lynchpins of Bord Bia’s Brexit strategy, along with consumer insight and development of new routes to market. Its credibility among international buyers provides Irish food and drink exporters with opportunities to engage and develop new business relationships.
It includes more than 270 companies with independently verified and monitored sustainability plans. These represent 90% of total Irish food and drink exports. A further 160 companies are preparing plans for verification. The mandatory areas from which targets are set form the basis of a business’s 3-5 year sustainability plan include raw material sourcing , manufacturing processes and operations, and social sustainability.
On the farm side, the newly-introduced Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme, for example, already has more than 50,000 farmers as participants, with 15,000 more in the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme — representing more than 90% of all beef produced and 85% of all dairy farms in Ireland.
Photo: Tara McCarthy with Li Yujia from the Chinese delegation at the Bord Bia stand. (Pic: Fennell Photography)