Creed and Bord Bia set up shop for Irish and online opportunities

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy will launch a new Bord Bia Insight Centre in London this week during their visit to the UK for St. Patrick’s Day events.

The visit will also see them engage with the leaders of some of the UK’s foremost businesses, key customers of Irish food and drink, to reinforce Ireland’s commitment as a supplier and to discuss the progress of these business relationships into the future.

This activity underlines the value of the UK for Irish food and drinks exports – estimated at over €4.5 billion.

The Insight Centre, modelled on Bord Bia’s existing ‘Thinking House’ centre in Dublin, will be housed in Bord Bia’s London office and will provide Irish food and drink exporters with access to tailored consumer and market insights to strengthen their offering to existing and potential UK customers.

It will also provide working facilities for Irish food and drink companies on visits to the UK.

Opening the facility, Minister Creed said: “Insight-led thinking is needed to address the challenges facing Irish exporters and indeed their customers in the UK as Brexit draws closer.

“This Bord Bia initiative, supported by my department, will help position Irish exporters with their customers through a shared understanding of the changes in consumer trends and how to meet them commercially.”

Bord Bia’s CEO, Tara McCarthy, said that Bord Bia was looking to further develop commercial relationships with customers through sharing its in-depth knowledge on consumer and market insight with them.

She said: “Increasingly food buyers are looking to partner with their suppliers to understand the evolving demands of their customers and how to meet them in a sustainable way.

The insight centre will create a platform for Bord Bia and Irish exporters to work with their customers to highlight exactly what the consumer is demanding and how they can supply these needs.

“Success in a highly competitive global marketplace – where we seek to compete not on price, but by creating value – can only come from the insights that will enable us to make better-informed decisions leading to commercial success.”

Opportunities with Ocado

Over three days, the minister and Bord Bia CEO will host top-to-top meetings with CEOs of Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, McDonalds, Ocado and Amazon.

These will aim to underline the strategic importance of the Irish food and drink industry as a sustainable partner and supplier to the UK – as well as to unlock further commercial opportunities.

Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado, the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailer, welcomed Minister Creed and Tara McCarthy to its state-of-the-art fulfilment centre where Bord Bia will look to strengthen its relationship with the retailer.

Ocado serves a customer base of 645,000 and achieves almost £1.5 billion (€1.69 billion) in annual sales revenue.

Online grocery shopping is the fastest growing channel in the UK, worth over £10 billion (€11.3 billion), with mainstream retailers also investing heavily in their online shopping service.

Irish foods are growing more rapidly than the Ocado business average, with the Irish shop currently in its top five performing international shops.

Ocado will send representatives to Bord Bia’s Marketplace International event next month where they will meet new and existing suppliers.

Speaking at the visit, McCarthy emphasised the importance of top-to-top engagement which assists Bord Bia to “copper-fasten” relationships at a senior level with key customers such as Ocado.

“Our relationship with Ocado, which stretches back over 10 years, has included the launch of a dedicated Irish shop section and a significant programme of business development events – assisting Irish suppliers to build their business with Ocado and introducing a wider Irish product portfolio to Ocado’s customers,” McCarthy said.