Significance of SIAL for Irish agri-food exports explained

A total of 35 Irish companies are participating in the biggest food trade fair in the world in a business-to-business level this year – SIAL.

Competing with 7,200 other exhibitors from 110 different countries, with 160,000 visitors over the four days, 32 of the firms are based at Bord Bia’s Origin Green stands, in four sections across the packed arena.

Of the businesses in action, 10 new companies are exhibiting for the first time.

The record-high number of companies is up from 26 at the last SIAL event in 2016, according to Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.

The biggest increase witnessed per category has been from prepared consumer foods (PCF), with four out of the seven exhibitors in that section showcasing at their debut SIAL.

Speaking to AgriLand earlier today (Monday, October 22), a number of the new exhibitors commented on the sheer size and numbers taking part in the biannual fair.

Preparations for Brexit

A total of 65% of prepared customer foods go to the UK market, making the sector especially exposed, and underlining the importance of trade fairs such as SIAL.

Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer shows that 85% of companies surveyed as part of the study have diversified, with 75% of companies reporting to have made sales outside of the UK in the last 12 months.

Some 86% of companies have targeted Europe for new markets.

Irish exhibitors discussed the issue with AgriLand, with some expressing concerns over potential impacts of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, though a number were optimistic of potential progress from today’s showcase.

Market Prioritisation

To assist exposed firms in narrowing down exporting destinations for different Irish produce, Bord Bia is establishing a “tool kit” for businesses.

Bord Bia worked with food and drink exporters over the past two years to produce important reports on “Prioritising Markets, Opportunities for Growth” which set out to identify the top 15 countries internationally with potential for growth demand for Irish products from the five main export product categories.

These include: Meat; Dairy; PCF; Seafood; and Beverages.

The potential in Europe is significant around PCF, beverages and seafood – making this week a vital opportunity for exhibitors as March 29 – Brexit departure day – approaches.