A new report has been launched highlighting the importance of the food and drink sector to Ireland and the main strategic challenges and opportunities to be considered by policymakers over the next ten years.
The Food Drink Ireland (FDI) report outlines detailed policy recommendations in the areas of skills, competitiveness, market development, innovation, sustainability. It also highlights that Brexit policy responses must address all scenarios from no deal to future relationship.
Including among the recommendations is increasing funding for enterprise-led skills development; supporting an ambitious EU trade agenda; and provided the necessary resources to maintain Ireland’s leading food safety regime.
“One in eight jobs in the Irish economy are now linked to agri-food and drink. Sustaining growth for the sector is imperative in sustaining the growth of the wider economy,” said FDI Director Paul Kelly.
“The industry’s competitiveness has declined at a time when both opportunities and challenges are increasing.
“From a competitive standpoint, Irish infrastructure costs such as labour, energy, waste, environment and other business compliance and regulatory costs are significantly out of step against many of the EU competitor economies in whose markets we wish to compete.
“Costs in general facing the sector have increased by 11% from their trough in 2011 with half of those increases coming in the past two years. Combined with the sharp depreciation of sterling since 2015, there has been a 30% increase in the cost of serving the UK market.
“A hugely important measure to mitigate the risks and challenges faced by the sector is to implement policies to control our cost base whilst providing support for companies to innovate and improve both productivity and sustainability.”
Mr Kelly outlined the importance of ensuring the effective implementation of the Climate Action Plan in order to support the ambition of the industry.
“The food and drink industry is the only major industrial sector with a full domestic supply chain from farm to fork. The sector interacts with a wide range of economic and social interests across Ireland and this is particularly true for the environment,” he said.
“The sustainability credentials of the industry must be recognised and supported, particularly the introduction of carbon abatement measures and reductions in single use plastics and food waste.”