Food for thought

Business | Thu 3 Mar | Author – Business & Finance
food for thought

The inside track on Ireland’s booming food and beverage industry, edited by Niamh Mac Sweeney.

FOOD EXPORTS REACH RECORD HIGH

This year it is estimated that the value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 3% to exceed €10.8bn for the first time. The food and drink sector recorded its sixth consecutive year of export growth in 2015 as increased output in key sectors, favourable exchange rates and better returns for beef, seafood and beverages, helped to offset a weakening in global dairy prices.

“Irish food exporters registered record growth, increasing exports by some €355m in a period when global food commodity prices declined by approximately 19%, the Russian market was effectively closed to EU food exports, and consumer sentiment remained sluggish across the eurozone,” Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia said when presenting the ‘Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects Report 2015/2016’.

According to Cotter, 2016 will present opportunities for growth in most sectors but there will be challenges due to global dairy price pressures.

In 2015, the strongest categories in terms of export growth were beverages (+10%), beef (+6%), and seafood (+4%). The sustained growth in exports of Irish whiskey, up by an estimated 18%, was the most significant driver in the beverages category.

The growth in dairy exports – up 4% – occurred despite adverse trading conditions and reflects the growth in the volume of specialist nutrition powders, which increased by 25% overall and by 40% to China alone.

Launching the report the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney complimented the industry for achieving a record sixth consecutive year of export growth.

“The food and drink industry has been a driving force in our economic recovery since 2009, delivering cumulative export growth of 51%. Irish producers and companies have yet again demonstrated in 2015 their ambition, innovativeness and ability to meet buyer and consumer needs in highly competitive and complex trading environments,” the minister explained.

Business Bord BiaThere have also been some significant developments in the market distribution of Ireland’s food exports.

Food and drink exports increased by 3% to exceed €10.8bn for the first time

The US consolidated its position as our second largest market after the UK, with exports growing by 40% to an estimated €755m. Exports to China grew by 16%, maintaining its position as our fifth most important market and our second largest for dairy and pork. Exports to the Middle East grew by 12%, but exports to Russia and to the African region were weaker.

Bord Bia also published its new Statement of Strategy, 2016 – 2018, ‘Making a World of Difference’. The document sets out the key forces driving change in the marketplace.

Bord Bia has also announced the establishment of a new innovative Insight Centre which will become operational in the early months of this year. ‘The Thinking House’ will be located at the organisation’s Dublin offices and is designed to help companies successfully underpin new marketing and brand initiatives. 

OPERATION TRANSFORMING THE NATION

WyyldssonIrish online health food company Wyldsson has launched a new webstore. The Dublin-based company, which currently employs six people, produces healthy snack and breakfast products for a growing list of Irish and international consumers. The company is aiming to build on a successful 2015 with the launch of its webstore.

Wyldsson, founded in 2012, supplies health food products to customers in 10 different countries, with the UK market accounting for over a third of sales.

The company has gathered an impressive list of customers, which includes international rugby teams, NBA teams, UFC fighters, golfers, footballers and Tour de France cyclists. “There’s been massive interest in our products,” Dave McGeady, CEO, Wyldsson said. “Our new webstore will allow us to process more orders and deal with increased traffic to the site.”

SOURCING THE SWEET STUFFNestle

Nestlé Ireland has reached its target to source 100% certified sustainable cocoa for its chocolate confectionery and biscuits becoming the first major confectionery company in Ireland to do so.

Now the entire range of Nestlé chocolate confectionery and biscuits sold in Ireland will be produced using certified sustainable cocoa, sourced through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan.

Andrew McIver, managing director, Confectionery, Nestlé UK & Ireland said: “In achieving this landmark milestone, we are demonstrating our long-term commitment to making a real difference to cocoa farmers and their communities.”

Nestlé works with both UTZ Certified and the Fairtrade Foundation for independent certification that the cocoa is sourced and produced sustainably on farms with safe working conditions. The UTZ programme is designed to improve producers’ lives and offer a cost efficient sustainability programme to the industry. UTZ certified farmers are trained to grow better crops, generate more income and create opportunities for their families whilst safeguarding the environment.

CATCHING THE SEA OF CHANGE

Fishing RodEight schemes have been launched as part of Ireland’s new €240m European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Seafood Development Programme.

The programme will double the amount of development funding for Ireland’s seafood sector and will be a source of funding for Ireland’s seafood sector until 2021.

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, said he was delighted to launch the range of new schemes which will drive the development of the fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors over the next six years.

“Perhaps the most important thing this new Seafood Development Programme will do in the years ahead is to strengthen our seafood sector and support the implementation of the new CFP, and in particular the landing obligation, thereby ensuring the future and sustainability of our industry,” he said.

There were two schemes launched for the aquaculture sector (€28.8m), a targeted inshore fisheries conservation scheme (€6m), and a local fisheries development scheme (€12m). A further three schemes were also launched to drive forward the development of the seafood processing sector so as to ensure maximum employment is created and value captured from the fish landed or produced in Ireland.

Whiskey ClubRIVERS OF GOLD

The River Lee hotel, which runs a number cultural events as part of its Winter Whiskey Club celebrated its inaugural session with a special masterclass entitled ‘Women & Whiskey’ led by distiller Karen Cotter.

Gathered with Cotter was a largely female audience who experienced a tasting of Ireland’s finest whiskeys, including Redbreast 12-year-old, Greenspot, Jameson Black Barrel and Powers 12-year-old.

Cotter, distiller at the Microdistillery at the Jameson Experience Midleton, which is part of Irish Distillers, explained that Jameson has grown from less than 500,000 cases in the mid-1990s to five million cases this year.

The River Lee has a number of events planned including: Whiskey & Culture with Sean O’Riordan; Whiskey & Fashion with the Irish Year of Design; and Whiskey & Music with Triskal Arts Centre and Other Voices.