The main focus of the delegation is to promote dairy products and prepared foods.
Department of Agriculture officials will also visit Ankara for discussions with their Turkish counterparts on developing trade between both countries.
A departmental delegation is also in Morocco and Algeria to discuss bilateral trade.
With a population of 80 million, some 40% of whom are under 25, and an economy anticipated to expand by over 2% annually in the coming years, the Irish contingent, which features many dairy companies, is hopeful the lifting of sanctions will offer new trading opportunities in Iran for Irish food exporters to increase their share of a market that returned €4m ($4.5m) in 2015.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Aidan Cotter, chief executive of Bord Bia, said, "The lifting of international sanctions on Iran opens the way for Irish food exporters to explore trading opportunities in the second largest economy in the Middle East. As the economy grows and demand for premium food products outstrips domestic supply, Iran is looking to countries like Ireland to supply high quality, safe and sustainably produced food."
Hopes for future development
Minister Simon Coveney said the mission would be important in re-introducing Irish companies to the Iranian market and buyers, and would pave the way for greater collaboration with Irish exporters.
Although food did not form part of the international sanctions, issues surrounding financial transactions, dwindling foreign currency reserves and a drop in consumer sentiment as the economy contracted during that period made for a difficult trading environment in Iran.
Cotter noted that while there were still challenges for Irish companies supplying into the market, Bord Bia would explore new openings and ensure that as impediments to trade recede, Irish exporters can access the market early, build relationships and grow their businesses in tandem with economic growth.
He added that while the main focus of the visit was on dairy and prepared foods, where the most immediate opportunities are perceived to exist, he expected discussions would lead to future direct engagement across other sectors.
- Abbeyfield Foods
- Glanbia Ingredients and Glanbia Consumer Foods
- Glenstal Foods
- Green Isle
- Kerry Group
- Lakeland Dairies
- LacPatrick Dairies Ltd.
- Pan Euro Foods
- Redbank Food Company
- Wolfland Ltd.
- Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
- Bord Bia
Program of events
Bord Bia aims to familiarize the participating companies with the Iranian business environment and provide them with opportunities to engage directly with targeted potential customers.
At the information seminar, companies will receive advice from Iranian food industry, financial and legal experts on optimizing business opportunities and ensuring due diligence exercises are comprehensive before embarking on business ventures.
The companies also had visits to retail, production and processing facilities to provide first-hand experience of the Iranian food supply chain and point to where the principal opportunities may lie.
Trade with Iran
Bord Bia said it was also facilitating one-to-one meetings between 100 targeted Iranian food buyers and Irish exporters as the next step in building new trading relationships.
Ireland's food and beverage exports to Iran in 2015 amounted to €3.6m ($4.1m), consisting mainly of juices, butter and prepared foods. While exports of dairy produce including infant formula were a feature in the past, this trade has suffered in recent years.