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30,000 new jobs in food industry on the menu

THE food industry will create 30,000 new jobs here by 2020, it was claimed today.

Business group Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) maintained the right government policies would ensure the sector will also deliver ambitious exports of €12bn within the next eight years.

One in eight jobs -- 230,000 -- are already linked to the agri-food sector, which spends almost ¤8bn on goods and services each year.

FDII director Paul Kelly said the food and drink sector is deeply embedded in the Irish economy.

"That means that an increased focus on food will drive growth in the wider economy as well as in the sector itself," he said.

"The food sector spends €7.9 bn, or 76pc of its total expenditure, on Irish goods and services.

"This represents a significantly higher contribution to the domestic economy than any other area of manufacturing. If we increase exports to ¤12bn, the sector will potentially deliver 30,000 jobs across the whole economy."