Irish food retail sales rose by 3.8% in the third quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to Food Drink Ireland's (FDI) quarterly Business Monitor.
This is higher than the EU average of 3.1%, but behind that of the UK, which grew by 4.4%.
This increase is despite a 2.5% drop in food prices in the third quarter of this year against the previous year.
Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages fell by 2.2% due to lower prices across a range of products such as meat, bread & cereals and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate, and confectionery.
Food Prices decreased by 2.2% in the year to October and the price of Non-alcoholic beverage decreased by 1.4% in the same period.
The retail sector was greatly boosted by the growth in population, employment, and wages, which saw consumer spending this year grow by 5% in value this year, with volumes growing by 3.8%.
The agri-food industry is, however, facing an internal crisis, according to FDI Director Paul Kelly, who said that labour availability in the industry is now a critical issue.
“Despite the ongoing significant efforts to recruit from the Irish and European labour force, the critical nature of the current situation is deepening as the economy approaches full employment again,” Kelly said.
“The situation has now deteriorated to levels where it is having a real impact at individual factory level and negatively impacting the ability of companies to plan for expansion and indeed to meet day-to-day operational demands to service existing customers.”
FDI has called on the Government to urgently extend the employment permit schemes across the food processing sector so that labour shortages do not impact on existing business and growth prospects.
Kelly said that it is important to ensure the skills base of existing employees reflects the challenges of future growth in existing and new markets, rather than current business demands.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.