Six in 10 small and medium food and agri-businesses are using one or more of the COVID-19 supports to help manage the impact of the pandemic, according to IFAC's 2020 Food and AgriBusiness report.
Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness professional services firm said that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme was the most commonly used support with 39% of businesses accessing this.
The report which was conducted by Amárach Research during June and July 2020, showed that given the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic and a country-wide lockdown, positive sentiment among owners, MDs and CEOs of SMEs has declined this year.
The Optimism Index is at a three-year low; 55% are optimistic about the future compared to 74% in 2018, the research showed.
"While investment in automation is still low, a quarter of those surveyed believe investment in new technology and automation will be one of the long-term impacts from COVID, helping them to save costs, build resilience, and redeploy their teams to higher-value work," David Leydon, head of Food and AgriBusiness at IFAC said.
"It’s evident that sustainability is more important too – both in terms of communicating our Irish food credentials but also the climate change measures being taken by each food and agribusiness – managing waste and byproducts, purchasing sustainable packaging, and choosing environmentally conscious suppliers being the most common measures," he added.
'Twin Challenges Of COVID-19'
According to the report, Brexit is another pressure point with only 48% of SMEs admitting that they are prepared for the outcome.
Marking the launch of IFAC’s 2020 Food and AgriBusiness Report Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue said: “Over the coming months, dealing with the twin challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit will be very challenging for the food and agribusiness SME sector."
“As part of the country’s essential services, the whole of the agri-food sector has played a key role through the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a resilient sector and it is encouraging to see that nine out of ten businesses intend to maintain or grow employee numbers over the next year. It is also positive to see the range of climate change actions being undertaken by businesses," he added.
Minister McConalogue said that these efforts will be supported by the Government’s Brexit Readiness Action Plan which will kick-start a comprehensive Government Communications campaign to highlight the importance of Brexit readiness for businesses.
© 2020 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click sign-up to subscribe to Checkout.