The Oireachtas Agriculture Committee meets today to discuss the ongoing fodder crisis that has hit the industry. It coincides with Bord Bia's Marketplace International event which will see delegations visit farms and factories countrywide. The event is targeting €40m in new commercial wins.

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, said the vision of Ireland that the delegations will be getting on farms around the country will be different to the traditional image. "They'll be visiting farms where the animals, for welfare reasons as well as everything else, won't be outside. This is a unique event. This is not something that we're seeing as a new normal. We're looking at the grass fed nature of Ireland. It's one of our key competitive advantages. Clearly, contingency plans will put in place. This would have been seen as an exceptional year," the Bord Bia CEO said.

Ms McCarthy explained that the Marketplace event was the culmination of a year's work and it has seen 500 delegations from 50 countries coming here to make potential business connections and see the farms and factories where Irish food is produced. "There are large customers and niche customers varying from a very strong UK representation to European representation, but also buyers from Australia, China, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. We're looking right across the supply chain from retailers to food service operators to convenience online. Everywhere you can buy food, we're targeting them so we can offer Irish food," she explained.

The Bord Bia CEO also said the British market was holding up quite well, despite the challenges of a stronger euro for exporting companies. "The UK is still our number one market. Exports were up 7% last year even though sterling hit 90 pence to the euro. "Food is a low margin business so competitiveness is core. We're conscious that it's not something we can take for granted," she concluded.

Keogh's Crisps wins major deal with Emirates as part of Marketplace International event

MORNING BRIEFS - Facebook shares got a boost last night as CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a Congressional committee in Washington. The stock has fallen by almost 20% from the peak reached earlier this year - bringing it from close to $200 to under $160. But the share price gained almost 5% last night to close at over $165 dollars - its highest level in over two weeks.

*** Economist Jim Power has warned about the country's over-reliance on a small number of large multinationals for our corporate tax receipts. In his latest economic outlook compiled for Friends First, he also pointed to the housing situation as a threat to our competitiveness. The report said house prices are expected to rise by another 10% here this year.

*** Tesco has reported a 28% rise in full-year underlying operating profits to £1.64 billion. Sales for the year to the end of February climbed 2.3%. It was the ninth consecutive quarter of sales growth for the supermarket chain. Annual sales in Ireland were 2.7% higher on the back of very strong growth towards the end of the year.

*** Volkswagen has hinted at changes at the very top. The German carmaker said it was considering "evolving further" its leadership structure and that Matthias Mueller was open to playing a part in the changes.
He replaced Martin Winterkorn as CEO in 2015 following the diesel emissions scandal. Reports say VW brand chief Herbert Diess was in line to take over.