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Northern Ireland must capitalise on the innovation that exists in all sectors of our economy.

That was the message from Economy Minister Diane Dodds on a visit to food production company Finnebrogue Artisan. The Downpatrick-based business has been recognised for its advanced high-speed methods in producing premium meat and vegetarian products.

The Minister had a tour of the company’s main processing factory and held discussions with Chief Strategy Officer Jago Pearson and his team.

Speaking afterwards, the Minister said: “Increasing innovation is vital component of 10X Economy: An Economic Vision, which is our plan to transform Northern Ireland into one of the world’s elite small economies. It was very useful to visit Finnebrogue and see a Northern Ireland company which is synonymous with vision and innovation for its advanced high-speed methods which produce fantastic local food.”

The Minister added: “Recently, the DAERA Minister and I announced an independent strategic review into the future of the agri-food sector which will be led by former National Farmers’ Union President Sir Peter Kendall. While we want to look at the challenges facing our food processing and primary agriculture industries, we are also very aware that Northern Ireland is famous for innovation and invention in this sector too. The review team has launched a call for evidence and I am sure Northern Ireland companies which have pioneered new techniques and new products will have much to contribute to this review.”

She went on to say that the review team is also wanting to hear from individual agri-food businesses in all sectors, and their representative bodies, and from environmental stakeholders, academic and educational institutions, civil society and political groups.

The Minister also took the opportunity to express her condolences on the recent passing of Finnebrogue founder Denis Lynn.