Northern Ireland is set to have its own agri-food marketing body, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has said.

The Agri-Food Strategy Board recommended a single agri-food marketing body for the North in its ‘Going for Growth’ action plan in support of the agri-food industry in the North.

The North’s Agricultural Minister Michelle O’Neill said that agri-food is one of the key sectors in delivering export-led economic growth for the North.

“Industry representatives have made it clear that there is a need for better coordination of current marketing activities in the North. I believe an agri-food marketing body could provide the leadership and strategic direction needed to achieve this and welcome the initiative taken by the Agri-Food Strategy Board to progress this proposal,” she said.

Minister O’Neill said that the Agri-Food Strategy Board has championed the concept of a single supply chain and that she hopes the proposed body will provide an inclusive forum for the industry to work together for the benefit of all elements of the chain.

However, the Minister said that while the new organisation is a positive step,  these plans could have implications for the work of other organisations, including her own Department.

DARD said the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) led review was initiated in May 2014. It says the project board included representatives from DARD, InvestNI and the Agri-Food Strategy Board.