Irish Food Board: “Brexit Can be a Catalyst for Positive Changes”

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30 Jun 2017 --- A report recently launched by Bord Bia shows a renewed optimism for the Irish food and drink industry’s trading relationship with the UK market, worth over €4 billion last year. According to Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer, almost 80 percent exporters surveyed believe there is still significant potential for future growth in the UK market, despite the fact that 85 percent of respondents are facing competition from UK based suppliers and 61 percent don’t have a marketing strategy for the market.

Over a 28 day period, some 139 food, drink and horticulture exporters completed Bord Bia’s Barometer, a risk analysis tool designed to help individual companies assess their exposure to six specific risk areas associated with Brexit – routes to market, customs and tax, supply chain, trade, currency and human resources. A team of Bord Bia managers conducted 65 percent of the meetings face to face, with in excess of 350 hours’ worth of data collection completed in total. 120 senior industry representatives gathered in Bord Bia to hear the report findings delivered by Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.

Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer – report highlights:

  • Whilst strong UK trading relationships exist, the need for competitive insights, focused marketing strategies and customer acquisition plans are critical to future growth.
  • There was a realization amongst Irish exporters that dependence is too great on the UK market and diversification will be important going forward.
  • Over 80 percent of respondents believe there are viable alternative markets for their products however sectors such as beef and cheddar cheese will be challenged to find replacement markets.
  • To realize new business outside the UK and similar to that of the UK market, localized marketing strategies, along with structured customer acquisition programs and feet on the ground are critical to success.

Supply Chain Management
Increased lead times, especially when related to short shelf life products, and a complex and intense supply chain, is a key issue facing the industry.
Exporters with short shelf life products are most at risk, wit
h the mushroom industry facing the greatest challenge, as the sector’s main product has a shelf like of less than 7 days. Likewise beef mince is challenged due to the complex and intensive supply chain.

In terms of supply chain risk management, a low level of preparedness is common, with 68 percent of respondents unsure as to whether their supply chain partners are Brexit ready.

Speaking at the seminar Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia said: “Brexit will demand a nuanced and concerted response from every level of the food industry. It will require new skills, new approaches and new thinking. We will need to be innovative, agile, informed and prepared as never before. These are demands that will be made on Bord Bia as much as the industry we represent. Following what we believe to be the most comprehensive industry analysis to date, we are currently engaged in a comprehensive review of our structures and programs to ensure that we perform to the level required of us in this changing and challenging environment.”

“The publication of the report is part of Bord Bia’s commitment to develop a data-driven response to Brexit. We now have the hard facts and evidence that permit us to ruthlessly focus on what our industry needs most. Notwithstanding the challenges ahead, I believe Brexit can be a catalyst for real, positive change within the industry and Bord Bia,” she concluded.

Stay tuned with FoodIngredientsFirst next week, where we will feature Special Report on Brexit Concerns for the Food Industry.

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