Irish food and drink sector publishes promising export figures to UK in new report
June 15, 2021
Despite Brexit and COVID-19 identified as top risks for the Irish food and drink industry, 1 in 3 Irish businesses surveyed saw an increase in retail sales during COVID-19 and nearly half of all Irish companies exporting to the UK are forecasting increased sales over the next 12 months.
A new report launched by Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) shows that one in three Irish businesses surveyed saw an increase in retail sales during COVID-19, despite unprecedented headwinds from the pandemic and Brexit, presenting some of the biggest threats to the food industry and drinks.
Companies have also expressed positive optimism for the future, as the UK continues to be one of the most important markets for sales and growth in almost all Irish food and drink categories.
Bord Bia’s Readiness Radar is an expert risk diagnostic tool, designed to analyze the main challenges and opportunities facing the Irish food, beverage and horticulture industry. The results are based on a survey of 110 Irish food, drink and horticultural companies, accounting for around 60% of all Irish food and drink exports.
The report points out that following four years of preparation Irish companies operating in the UK are entering a more encouraging era following Brexit. While 90% of Irish companies exporting to Britain reported rising costs after Brexit, companies prepared well in advance to mitigate the risks and potential impact on their businesses, with 82% making plans strong to meet the various challenges of the market and meet the regulatory and legislative challenges of Brexit. Specifically, 7 out of 10 companies revealed that they are well prepared for handling UK customs documents. 78% of Irish businesses expressed a positive outlook for the next 12 months, with 46% anticipating increased sales thanks to strong business relationships with UK customers.
Longer term, eight in ten Irish companies are optimistic about the business outlook for the next three years. In the four years since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Bord Bia has continued to provide regular readiness programs and capacity building services for all Irish food and drink companies operating in the UK.
Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said: “We now have six months of negotiation in a post-Brexit era that has brought significant changes and unprecedented challenges, but the fact that nearly half of all companies Irish exporting to Great Britain forecast increased sales in the UK over the next 12 months testify to the resilience of the Irish food and drink industry and the strong relationships we have with our customers in Britain.
As with all businesses, COVID-19 was the second biggest risk for Irish food and drink companies operating in the UK. With almost half of Irish food and drink companies trading in the UK catering sector, the closure of this channel following COVID-19 has caused significant disruption.
Almost half of companies expect COVID-19 to remain a significant risk to their business in the future, but after a year of activity during the pandemic, 93% say they are much better prepared for the lingering risks associated with COVID-19.
In terms of the post Brexit and COVID-19 outlook, Irish food and drink producers have invested in four key areas to help grow and maintain sales in the UK including: sustainability, product innovation , new technologies and knowledge.
Bord Bia GB Director Donal Denvir said: “It has been a very difficult year for food and beverage companies operating in the UK retail and catering channels. The determination, resilience and agility of the Irish agribusiness companies that we have supported over the past year are truly amazing. So much progress has been made in a volatile year and our businesses feel well prepared for the market challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
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