Grant Thornton highlights ‘resilience’ of Irish food industry after tough 2020

Grant Thornton has highlighted the “resilience of the Irish food industry” following the publication of Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects 2020/21 report.

Commenting following the publication of the report yesterday (Wednesday, January 13), Padraig Ryan, director in business consulting at Grant Thornton Ireland, said:

“The report by Bord Bia [yesterday] demonstrates the resilience of the Irish food industry in tough market conditions.

Covid-19 created unprecedented trading conditions but many Irish food businesses were able to adapt quickly and work with the entire supply chain to ensure continuity of supply.

“The closure of the food services industry and many on-premise enterprises for significant proportions of the year has had a significant negative impact on certain sectors.

“Alcohol has been one of the worst affected sectors with the overall value of exports declining by 19%. The beef and seafood sectors are also reliant on out-of-home dining.

“The beef sector experienced a 2% decline in the value of exports, while seafood exports were down 10%.

These declines were offset by strong performances in the dairy sector, where post-quota diversification is paying dividends. The sector’s exports were worth €5.2 billion up 3%, with 49% of dairy exports destined for markets outside the UK and EU 27.

“Similarly, the continuing global challenges with African swine fever has contributed to increased demand for Irish pigmeat, with the value of exports increasing 14%.

“The mushroom sector, which has been highly exposed to Brexit, had a buoyant year with more home cooking creating increased demand leading to the value of exports rising 14%.”

However, the director cautioned: “While the overall industry performance must be commended, many challenges lie ahead in 2021 with the realisation of Brexit and lingering Covid-19 challenges.

“The industry will require continued support but has demonstrated fantastic agility to react to the challenges of 2020,” Ryan concluded.