THE MINISTER FOR Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock will today depart on a week-long Enterprise Ireland Functional Foods and Lifesciences trade mission to Japan.
The mission is focused on the particular potential for growth in these sectors in Japan, with 14 of Ireland’s leading and most innovative food and lifesciences companies taking part alongside Bord Bia and Teagasc.
During the mission, key meetings will take place between Irish companies and potential Japanese partners such as Suntory, Meiji, Terumo and Astellas Pharma as well as a Food Innovation Seminar and a Lifesciences Seminar for Irish and Japanese companies.
Sherlock will also undertake a number of stakeholder meetings, including some involving Japan Science and Technology Agency, the National Food Research Institute and the Riken Institute with the objective of increasing international research collaboration between Irish and Japanese companies and research institutes.
The Japanese market for functional foods is estimated to be worth €8.13 billion – with drinking yoghurts the largest sub-sector at €2.5 billion. Japan is also the second-largest pharmaceutical and medical device market in the world (valued at $96 billion in 2010).
“Supporting indigenous businesses to grow and export is central to the Government’s plans for recovery, growth and jobs. The objective of this trade mission is to continue delivering on these plans by highlight Ireland’s capabilities in food innovation and lifesciences technology. These two sectors are increasingly important in terms of Irish exports to Japan and offer significant potential for further growth in Japan.
“The innovative quality of Ireland’s food and lifesciences products, the strong Japanese demand and the active interest of Irish companies in doing business in Japan all combine to create significant potential for winning new business during this mission,” said Sherlock.
Significance of the Japanese market
The Minister said he was conscious of the “significance of the Japanese market” for Irish goods and services, which he said presents many opportunities for Irish companies. “In 2011 Ireland exported nearly €3 billion worth of goods and services to Japan making it our eleventh largest export market. A large proportion of our goods exports were accounted for by products in the pharmachem/medical devices sectors,” he said.
Enterprise Ireland’s Japan Director Eddie Hughes said Irish innovative food and lifesciences technology companies continued to be successful across the world, saying that Japan’s “sophisticated market” was closely matched by Ireland’s research and processing capabilities in these sectors.