Small food businesses remain ‘optimistic’ despite uncertainty

Ireland’s small food and drink businesses are optimistic about future development opportunities domestically and in export markets, according to Bord Bia research.

Over 140 industry representatives gathered in Portlaoise today (Tuesday, January 22) for the ninth annual Small Business Open Day.

Officially opening the conference, the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, highlighted the significance of the sector.

Small food and drink businesses are important contributors to the sustainability and future prosperity of the Irish economy.

“Survival and growth not only bring investment returns for individual businesses but also underpin the wider local community and the image of Ireland as a provider of high quality, innovative and sustainable food.

Image source: Chris Bellew

“Small producers, often with close links to the farm, are of crucial importance to rural communities,” Doyle concluded.

Also speaking at the event, Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, said: “Notwithstanding the unprecedented challenges posed by Brexit, we are encouraged by the positivity and proven durability of the small-business sector in Ireland.

Image source: Chris Bellew

“This year, we will significantly expand our customs training programme and launch a new mentoring programme on supply chain and logistics that will assist clients as they diversify and compete in new and existing markets.”

Bord Bia estimates that the small food and drink business sector is worth some €400 million to the Irish economy, with the highest concentration of small businesses in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford.

McCarthy explained: “While small businesses tend to have a strong domestic market focus, many companies see exporting as vital to future growth and are keen to showcase their products in new European markets.

“The UK is currently the largest export market and over half of the companies who export (54%) do so via distributors, while 44% trade directly with their end customers.”

Marketing Assistance Programmes

Bord Bia’s Marketing Assistance Programmes aim to provide support to the small-business sector over the coming months, with an expected 170 companies to be approved for grants and marketing assistance totaling almost €1 million.

Companies can apply for funding across a range of marketing activities including attendance at trade fairs, market visits, in-store tastings, packaging design and website development.

The closing date for receipt of applications for financial programmes is Friday, January 31, 2019. For more information, visit: bordbiavantage.ie.