Bord Bia targets opportunities for €2.5bn Irish food market

Bord Bia moves to deflect double hammer blows of pandemic and Brexit for Ireland’s €2.5bn prepared consumer foods market.

State agency responsible for promoting Irish food Bord Bia is launching a major drive to promote Ireland’s prepared consumer foods market through a targeted campaign.

The €2.5bn Irish prepared consumer foods market is reeling from the double hammer blow of Brexit and the pandemic.

“After what has been a challenging and disruptive year for the food industry around the world, we know that many supply chains need to adapt”

Bord Bia is taking action to reverse the impact to the sector and together with 50 food companies will host more than 500 virtual trade meetings with buyers from key export markets including the US, Europe and United Arab Emirates.

Food for thought about diversification

Bord Bia’s Prepared Consumer Foods Accelerate 2021 programme is a year-long initiative to help companies in the sector boost growth through exports and diversification.

The prepared consumer foods sector – also known as “centre aisle products – includes ice-cream, confectionary and ingredients for professional food kitchens such as pizza toppings and various processed meats.

It is understood that the sector’s export fell €37.5m in January because of Brexit and the pandemic.

Up to 70pc of the sector’s exports traditionally went to the UK and exports to Britain fell by €28m alone in January.

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said that there are opportunities in the US for snacks and biscuits, opportunities in France for jam and ice-cream and Germany for savoury snacks and prepared consumer food goods.

“After what has been a challenging and disruptive year for the food industry around the world, we know that many supply chains need to adapt,” McCarthy told RTÉ.

“This, coupled with the fact that all of the major in-person food and beverage trade fairs in Europe and the US have been cancelled for the past 12 months, means that global customers are seeking out new ways to identify new suppliers and product innovations.”

She told The Irish Times: “Covid and Brexit are concerning in terms of long-term fragility facing the sector. Many companies have pivoted their operations towards more retail. We want to accelerate the growth of PCF and we are kicking off a full-year campaign of support by starting with the diversification agenda.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 12 April 2021