More than 180 Irish food and drink businesses, including Dawn Farm Foods and APB Food Group, attended the Bord Bia Brexit briefing in Dublin last week. This followed a survey conducted by Bord Bia which found that 40% of levy payers expected sales to decline due to the referendum result.
Aidan Cotter, Bord Bia chief executive, said: “The purpose of the briefing is to explore and begin to understand the implications of Brexit for a market that takes 41% of our food and drink exports, valued at €4.4bn (£3.7m). Our hope is that the event may advance all of our deliberations and if we can’t resolve the uncertainty, and clearly we can’t, that at least we can now begin to learn how we can deal with it and live with it. These learnings and our ongoing close contact with our clients will inform our future supports for the sector.”
To help allay fears, Bord Bia set out a series of actions including helping manage volatility impacts in currencies through negotiation, financial and contractual considerations via a workshop; providing consumer and market insight; deepening customer engagement by amplifying existing trade events and the pursuit of opportunities to promote Irish produce in the retail and foodservice environments; extending market reach which includes trade missions to Asia and North Africa, and focusing more on the domestic Irish market through another wave of its Origin Green campaign.
Cotter added: “These measures were tailored to the needs of exporters and informed by one-to-one contacts with our clients and our post-Brexit survey, and will now be supplemented as necessary following the conference’s exchanges. They are focused on assisting companies maintain their competitiveness through providing advice on managing volatility impacts, provision of consumer and market insight, deepening customer engagement and extending market reach.”
The briefing also featured an overview of potential UK/EU trading relations by Brid Cannon, assistant secretary general of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, an insight into the macroeconomic implications of the Brexit on the UK grocery market by James Walton, chief economist with IGD, and a talk on currency exposure by senior economist John Fahey and John Sheils, senior relationship manager, both of AIB.