A delegation of 60 people representing over 30 Irish food companies is in the Middle East this week.

The delegation is on a trade mission to boost sales of food and drinks to the gulf region.

The trade mission to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has been led by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Minister Coveney said that the aim of the trade mission is to double sales to the Gulf states by 2020.

It is the biggest Irish trade mission of its kind to the Middle East, where last year €275m worth of Irish food and drink was exported.

The trip was organised by Bord Bia with Irish companies involved in meat, dairy, food ingredients, confectionery and consumer foods.

Bord Bia will be opening a permanent office in January to boost trade to the Gulf region in the hope that sales will double between now and 2020.

It is estimated that 85% of food consumed in this region is imported.

Later this week, the Irish Dairy Board will announce a significant partnership investment in the Saudi capital Riyadh.