Bord Bia reveals ambitious plans for food industry
Driving export growth will be key for getting Ireland's economy back on track, says Bord Bia. It aims for returns of €10bn by 2010
9 February 2009
Last month Bord Bia announced ambitious targets for the country’s export and domestic food markets over the next three years. Opening the press conference for its ‘Statement of Strategy 2009 – 2011’, Bord Bia chairman Dan Browne said the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry “has the potential to boost annual export returns by more than 20% to reach €10 billion by 2011.”
Aidan Cotter, chief executive Bord Bia, concurred that this is an attainable goal, but that it was better to aim too high rather than too low, particularly facing an economic slowdown.
Irish exports declined 6.5% to €8.16bn in 2008, which Cotter described as “impressive” considering the forecasted decrease of over 12%. Within this, Irish meat had the strongest performance, actually growing sales by 2%, whereas prepared foods took the biggest hit, with exports dropping 15%. Of total exports, 43% is destined for the UK market, where the average depreciation of sterling against the euro amounted to 22%, according to Cotter.
Bord Bia says that returning to export growth will be a strategic priority in 2009 but this will be dependent on “a more stable exchange rate environment.”
At home, restoring Irish food manufacturers to a “strong position” in the market will be “critical”, said Cotter. The retail food and beverage market is now valued at €8bn (consumer prices), although rising costs, adverse currency movements, and increased import competition, partly associated with a growing international retailer presence with its own overseas supply base, is placing new pressures on Irish suppliers.
“Irish companies are feeling they are at the end of the line,” Cotter said. Bord Bia has identified six key areas to enhance Irish food on the home market, most importantly ‘consumer focused innovation’ and developing small businesses.