Bord Bia publishes foodservice industry White Paper

"As operators streamline menus during the pandemic, many will likely focus on those items that drive maximum revenue post-crisis," states Bord Bia

Food board has published paper to equip Irish food and drink industry with forecast data and possible scenarios as they plan for the remainder of 2020



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28 May 2020

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In response to the impact of Covid-19 on the foodservice industry and the knock-on effect on food and drink producers and suppliers in Ireland, Bord Bia has published a White Paper charting three possible scenarios for the remainder of 2020 as the industry moves to a phased re-opening in a transformed operating environment.

The White Paper, developed to equip the industry and Irish food and drink suppliers servicing this key market with data and insights as they plan for the second half of 2020, will outline ‘best’ to ‘worst case scenarios’, key trends and recommendations and supports available for businesses across the sector.

The scale of the challenge

Taking market values as published by Bord Bia to end 2019, the White Paper, co-authored by global foodservice research specialists Technomic, outlines three possible scenarios.

Forecasts are based on current industry reporting and research; recent announcements and interviews with restaurants, distributors and other associations; along with economic forecasts for the remainder of 2020. Based on a ‘best case scenario’ and taking into account the impact of falling tourism figures, the out of home market in Ireland is predicted to fall in value from €8.5bn at the beginning of 2020 to €4.7bn by the end of this year.  Against a forecast ‘worst case scenario’, the market could fall by as much as almost 60% to €3.7bn.

In the face of this outlook, Bord Bia’s White Paper will outline recommendations and supports available to business as they forward plan and adapt their positioning, products and services.

“While acknowledging the clear and ongoing damage to the Irish foodservice market, it is also important to begin thinking about how the industry re-starts and what permanent changes may ultimately “stick” into the future,” said Maureen Gahan, foodservice specialist, Bord Bia.

She added that despite experiencing a worldwide “near total collapse” during lockdown, that foodservice is “a hugely resilient industry”, and a number of outlets have already transitioned to takeaway and home delivery, with producers “pivoting their businesses to meet the new needs of their foodservice customers”.

Five key trends that are likely to have a longer lasting impact on the industry

  1. Streamlined/smaller menus—as operators streamline menus during the pandemic, many will likely focus on those items that drive maximum revenue post-crisis.
  2. Continued investment in off-premises/takeaway—this crisis has shown that having any off-premise strategy to diversify risk is a must. Expect more types of operators to invest in off-premise, whether it’s takeout or delivery. Digital strategies will become more important to operators of all types.
  3. Decreased emphasis on customisation/made-to-order—This will be driven by labour challenges and a move toward low prices among many consumers. It seems likely that operators will focus more on grab-and-go and pre-prepared items.
  4. Ghost/delivery kitchen acceleration—as the industry resets, more companies may decide to eliminate the dining room altogether to capitalise on longer-term, off-premise trends.
  5. Consolidation—while this may manifest itself most clearly in the restaurant space, we are also likely to see acquisition of some players throughout the supply chain and risks to more vulnerable operations.

White Paper co-author, David Henkes, Technomic said that the contractions in 2020 would “erase years of growth and share gain from the retail sector. However, we remain bullish on the longer-term viability and resurgence of the industry, as the economy recovers and as consumers grow more confident living in the age of Covid-19.” He added that the paper would help businesses to “best position their own companies to ensure they are “open for business”.

“Our main message to producers at this stage is to take a flexible and adaptable approach, identifying products and solutions that are relevant to industry operators as they re-open their businesses,” said Maureen Gahan. 

“We encourage food and drink businesses to avail of the range of supports and services available to companies via our Navigating Change programme,” she added. “Bord Bia will continue to monitor developments and will present a more in-depth analysis at the end of the year as the situation evolves.”

Summary findings from the industry White Paper will be presented via an hour long webinar on Thursday, 28 May from 2-3pm.  The webinar is open to all and registration is via Bord Bia’s hub.

Full report available here.

Full details of Bord Bia’s Navigating Change Covid-19 Response programme and suite of supports is available at:

Businesses can access information on the range of business supports available through the government of Ireland and state agencies here




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