Over 520 food buyers from 28 countries across four continents were at Dublin's Convention Centre today to meet Irish companies that export food and drink.
The event, organised by Bord Bia, was aimed at boosting overseas sales of Irish goods in the agri-foods sector.
Nearly 180 Irish companies, ranging in size and profile from small enterprises to multinationals, met targeted buyers during 4,500 pre-scheduled ''speed-dating'' style meetings that took place throughout the day.
The trade buyers, with a collective buying power in excess of €18bn, represent some of the world's key retail and foodservice operators.
They include big British names such as Sainsburys, Selfridges, Tesco and Asda, as well as companies from further afield, including Carrefour, Delhaize, Mercadona and Alcampo.
Marketplace International 2012 is the largest buyer event Bord Bia has ever staged.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney said the opening of new markets for Irish food is a key target for him.
He also said it was important to position Ireland globally as an innovative and top quality producer with high standards.
Mr Coveney said the record €8.9bn achieved in 2011 marks the resilience of the Irish food and drinks industry.
Bord Bia Chairman Michael Carey emphasised the Irish food industry's capability to seek out new market opportunities.
In addition to a strong representation of UK and European buyers, 14 representatives from leading Chinese retail and foodservice companies have travelled to the event.
There were also 17 buyers from the Middle East and 12 from Russia in attendance.
Last year, Irish food and drink exports performed very strongly in international markets led by significant growth in dairy, meat and seafood.
For the year, it is estimated that the value of exports outside of Europe grew by 20%, or €350m, to reach almost €2.2bn.