Prepared Consumer Foods exports point to the future of Irish food industry
16 January 2015 | 0
According to Shane Dempsey, head of the Prepared Consumer Foods Council, Ibec: “A thriving and dynamic Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF) sector is key to building sustainable domestic and international success for the Irish food industry. This has long been acknowledged and this year for the first time we can assess the sector’s export performance which is up 7% on 2013 and accounts for €2.2 billion or about 21% of all Irish food exports.
This is a sector that covers the local artisan microenterprise to the global food brand. PCF products reach every household in Ireland and there are about 500 enterprises producing products geographically spread across the country. The sector is embedded in the country’s social and economic fabric providing over 20,000 people with employment and supporting many thousands of jobs indirectly.
Successive reports including Pathways to Growth and Food Harvest 2020, all point to the need for Irish food to compete on innovation, customer focus and brands if we are to develop a sustainable agri-food economy. The PCF is an enabler for primary sectors such as meat and dairy to add value and generate sales in export markets.
The PCF Council has developed a ten year strategy for the sector at the request of Minister Simon Coveney and its first recommendation was that a definition of the sector be agreed by industry and the Government. “This allowed us to identify PCF exports and establish a baseline for the first time ever. All stakeholders will now be working off this definition and this will allow us to measure progress over the coming decade. We can now see that PCF is a key sector within the food industry placing it on a par with the primary sectors in terms of exports, employment and turnover,” said Dempsey.
“The PCF Council believes that with the correct policy interventions, the PCF sector can increase direct employment from 20,000 to 28,000, increase exports by over 70% and increase the value of output by 50% to nearly €7billion. These are impressive figures that will benefit balanced and fair economic recovery across Ireland. However, the sector has been neglected too long and now urgent steps must be taken to ensure finance with realistic conditions is available, business costs are brought down, innovation is supported and our extensive retailer network is utilised to promote Irish food domestically and internationally.”