400 international food and drinks buyers are joining 140 Irish buyers in meeting almost 200 small, medium and large Irish food and drinks companies hoping to grow their export businesses.

Today Bord Bia's Marketplace event, the biggest international food buyer event to be staged here in Ireland, takes place. There will be a hundred buyers from Asia, including the biggest ever Chinese trade delegation to travel to Ireland.

One of those small Irish companies is Laura Murphy's SynerChi, a live-culture, kombucha based soft drink. Laura Murphy explains that kombucha is an ancient Chinese drink which is a natural alternative to soft drinks. It is organic and is naturally free from dairy, gluten and soy. Her company is based in Gweedore in Co Donegal and employs seven people. SynerChi also operates the only kombucha tea microbrewery or “Kombrewery” in Ireland and it takes 14 days for the drink to be produced. 

The market for kombucha is worth over $500m in the US now as people start moving towards healthier products. The product can now be found in more mainstream outlets such as supermarkets and petrol stations and is seeing annual growth rates of about 35%, Ms Murphy states.

Ms Murphy says she is expecting a very busy day at the Marketplace event and exports are very much part of her company's plan. While the UK markets would be seen as a natural start for SynerChi, she says she was very surprised by the level of interest from Asian companies as well. She says the company would have the ability to scale the business for growth when that opportunity comes along.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Weekend reports suggested the Government is expected to approve IAG's €1.3 billion bid for Aer Lingus in its first Cabinet meeting after the Easter break.  It said IAG is poised to offer a number of concessions and sweeteners to secure the deal. The new proposals are expected to be put to Cabinet in the next two weeks and the takeover could be agreed in April.  If the deal gets Cabinet approval, the Government would seek Dáil backing for the sale of its 25.1% stake. The future use of the Heathrow slots controlled by Aer Lingus remains the only big hurdle to the Government sanctioning a takeover by IAG. IAG is offering a five-year guarantee on the use of the take-off and landing slots. The Government is thought to want a guarantee for as long as 10 years. IAG regards a deal of this duration as commercially unviable.

*** The price of oil is unlikely to reach the record levels seen in the past few years again, according to Saudi Arabia's representative at OPEC. Mohammed al-Madi, Saudi's OPEC governor, told an energy conference that hitting the $100 to $120-a-barrel mark again would be "difficult". Mr Madi rejected suggestions that Saudi Arabia was letting the oil price fall for political and competitive reasons.  Some analysts have speculated that Saudi Arabia's willingness to see the price fall is because it will hurt America's booming - but high cost - shale gas industry. Saudi is Opec's biggest producer and the dominant voice with the group.