Bord Bia, the Irish government agency that manages the promotion, trade development and marketing of the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry, has announced the appointment of Kieran Fitzgerald as the new Regional Director for the Middle East region.
Kieran will be leading the Irish food board across the Middle East, a market that is immensely important to Ireland. Despite the challenges brought on by Covid-19, Irish food and drink exports to the Middle East were worth €344 million in 2020. Premium grass-fed dairy ingredients represent the largest category of Irish exports to the region, and have contributed to an overall increase of 6% in exports to Saudi Arabia in 2021 (year to date).
Kieran will be responsible for working with industry leaders to drive the commercial success of Irish food, drink and horticulture exports to the Middle East as well as to support Irish producers and exporters enter regional markets and grow their exports, ultimately enabling both the growth and sustainability of Irish food and drink producers.
There is a rising demand for premium quality, grass-fed Irish, beef and lamb in UAE restaurants, with beef exports to the country increasing by 120% (year to date) and lamb exports having increased by more than 140%, making the country a key strategic market for Irish food producers.
“We are delighted to appoint Kieran to lead the work Bord Bia is doing across the Middle East region to raise the profile of Irish food and drink. In this role, Kieran will look to further build upon the strong relationships in place between Irish food producers and buyers to grow these exports in the year ahead,” said Ailish Forde, Global Business Development Director, Bord Bia.
“Kieran has an exceptional track record and his broad experience, combined with extensive international knowledge, makes him ideally suited to this important role,” she added.
Having worked previously in China for Bord Bia as a Market Specialist and as an EU Programmes Manager for Asia, Kieran brings on board his strategic expertise from developing and implementing promotional strategies across Eastern markets. In 2019, Kieran successfully launched Bord Bia’s Chef’s Masters Series in China, which continues to be instrumental in engaging chefs across a vast geography. Last year, as a live streamed event, it reached an audience of 25 million people. Prior to joining Bord Bia, Kieran Fitzgerald worked for Merrill Lynch and Fáilte Ireland in Dublin, Ireland and Jiuzhaigou National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site in China.
“It is an honour to lead Bord Bia in the Middle East during what is a very exciting time for the Irish food and drink industry. Ireland’s reputation as a food producing country is inextricably linked to the hard work and commitment of tens of thousands of farmers and food producers across the country. Bord Bia has ambitious goals for the region, and I believe our commitment to sustainable production will ensure the continued success of the Irish food and drink industry,” said Kieran Fitzgerald, Regional Director – Middle East, Bord Bia.
Looking ahead, Bord Bia has a number of exciting announcements in the UAE and Middle East, including the launch of Irish lamb to Kuwait and the relaunch of Bord Bia’s acclaimed Chefs’ Irish Beef Club in Dubai, an exclusive international forum which brings together some of the region’s leading chefs who collectively endorse Irish beef.
He added: “With the Middle East being a leading growth market for the food and drink industry, I look forward to elevating Irish food producers across the region through the introduction of an ambitious strategy that will help ensure more demand for Irish produce, as well as building new partnerships and strengthening existing relationships between Ireland and the Middle East.”