The agri-food sector can do great things this century and be a real driver of jobs and growth as well as playing a central part in addressing societal challenges, the EU Farm Commissioner, Phil Hogan has said.

Speaking at the Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture in Dublin, he told members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland that farmers and agri-businesses in Ireland had understood how a high quality food or drink product had huge global export potential.

"The context continues to be favourable; world demand for agricultural products will keep increasing, albeit with the usual temporary market ups and downs. At least 150 million people will be entering the global middle class every single year until 2030. The massive growth in disposable income will result in significant changes to dietary patterns.

"To give just one example, global demand for dairy products is projected to increase at an annual rate of 2 per cent and with the recent end of milk quotas, Ireland is well placed to meet some of that demand," he said.