Bord Bia to host major virtual trade fair to support €2.5bn sector

Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia

Over 500 virtual trade meetings set for €2.5bn Prepared Consumer Foods sector in large scale virtual trade fair as UK market post-Brexit declines reach €28 million 



13 April 2021 | 0

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This week, Bord Bia and over 50 Irish prepared consumer food companies, ranging from large scale manufacturers to family businesses, will host over 500 virtual trade meetings with buyers from key export markets including the United Arab Emirates, US and Europe (France, Belgium, Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany).

The Prepared Consumer Foods Virtual Sourcing Fair, which takes place from 13 – 19 April, is a central component of a new year-long Bord Bia programme of activity specifically developed to support the €2.5 billion ‘prepared consumer foods’ sector. With annual exports to the UK accounting for approximately 70% of total exports, the prepared consumer foods sector is the most reliant on the UK market and carries a significant Brexit exposure.

The full and first tangible impact of this exposure was highlighted just one month into post-Brexit trading, with year-on-year PCF exports to the UK decreasing by -19% (€28 million) in January 2021*. The significant reduction in exports to the UK was also an indicator of the extent of forward shipping and stock building in anticipation of Brexit implementation on 31 December 2020.

In preparation for the reality of post-Brexit trading, Bord Bia has undertaken extensive work with the hundreds of businesses in the PCF sector over the past four years to develop a global market diversification and trade engagement programme. Last month, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Minister of State for New Market Development, Martin Heydon, in conjunction with Bord Bia, led a series of meetings with key global customers across the UK, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and China.

The PCF category includes meal solutions, confectionary, non-alcoholic beverages, ingredients and value-added meat, seafood, and horticulture. Producers in this sector supply some of the world’s largest foodservice outlets, major grocery retailers across Europe, and beyond, and some of the biggest global restaurant chains. It is a critical sector to maximise the potential of value-added ingredients in Ireland’s world-leading food, drink and horticulture industry. Total PCF exports across all markets were down by 18%, or €37.5 million, in January. This is the largest decrease observed since the onset of the pandemic and highlights the impact of the prolonged closure of the foodservice channel in many global markets.

“Ireland’s prepared consumer foods sector is a vital part of our food and drink industry and is a crucial route to market for value added foods,” said Minister Charlie McConalogue,

“My department has been engaged with Bord Bia on an extensive market diversification and prioritisation strategy over recent years to broaden out the global base for this sector which now exports to an impressive 119 countries,” he added. “I heartily welcome buyers from around the world who will connect with Ireland’s world-class sustainable food producers via 500 virtual meetings over six days. It is this innovative approach to business and this scale of ambition that will drive this sector on in this new era of global trading.”

Bord Bia’s ‘Prepared Consumer Foods Accelerate 2021’ programme is a year-long initiative to support client companies in the prepared consumer foods category to accelerate growth by supporting diversification into prioritised markets. It helps them improve their capacity by giving them market insights and new opportunities with high potential buyers in export markets, along with a full offering of engagement and Bord Bia supports.

Later this year, Bord Bia will host further trade engagement events targeting new business and PCF buyers in the UK and ROI markets.

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