Bord Bia has ‘no definitive Brexit plan’ in place

Bord Bia has no definitive Brexit plan for Ireland’s agri-food sector, according to the organisation’s new chief executive Tara McCarthy.

“That’s because we do not know what the other party wants from the negotiations. But we do have lots of contingencies in place, where the potential impact of Brexit is concerned. And we are formulating these on the back of a data-based approach for each sector of the food industry.”

McCarthy was speaking on RTE’s CountryWide programme last Saturday morning. She confirmed that Irish food and drink exports to the UK were valued at €4 billion last year.

“Each sector is different. For example, horticulture has a 90% exposure to the UK market: the comparable figure for meat is 50%.”

So we are drilling down into the specific data for each sector, identifying its specific competitors on the UK market and then assessing the likes of alternative market options.

“We are also seeking to assess the impact of a currency swing or a tariff swing on each sector operating within the UK market. And with this in mind we will be launching a company specific tool kit that has been developed in tandem with PWC on March 21.”

McCarthy discounted the suggestion that Ireland’s farmers are not receiving the full benefits of the marketing work undertaken by Bord Bia in terms of the price they get for their outputs.

“We can’t control price. But we can get our products into the best paying markets. And Origin Green is helping us achieve this.

“But it must be recognised that we are talking about a long process, particularly when it comes to getting consumers to pay more the food they eat.”

The Bord Bia chief executive also believes that securing improved levels of sustainability within the Irish agri-food sector is the factor that will allow the industry grow its output during the period ahead. And the full implementation of Origin Green programme will be the key driver behind all of this.