Food Drink Ireland (FDI) has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys of additional liquidity support of €1 billion.
However, the Ibec group that represents the food and drink sector in Ireland has called for the introduction of a short-term export credit insurance scheme plus a range of other financing measures including greater liquidity supports and loan guarantees.
“Even in normal times, food and drink manufacturing has a large financing requirement," said Paul Kelly, director, FDI.
"It accounts for €2.67 billion of credit advances annually which is 60% of total advances to Irish manufacturing."
Kelly noted that while the sector continues to put food and drink on Irish tables, large market outlets for the industry have been decimated.
"The enhancements to the working capital, credit guarantee and future growth support products, announced by Minister Humphreys will provide important assistance, but very specific and more ambitious financing measures will be needed to aid recovery," he added.
FDI highlighted that over 250,000 people work in agri-food and drink and supporting services supplying the majority of produce to Ireland’s €15 billion domestic grocery and food service/hospitality sector as well as €13 billion of exports to overseas markets.
"Our farmers and food processors have continued to supply high quality food and drink to Irish consumers through grocery and convenience stores but have seen demand largely disappear in Irish food service and hospitality," Kelly said.
Exports are experiencing huge difficulties as well, not just in food service and hospitality, but more generally as displaced product creates market turbulence, the group added.
"Restarting the Irish food service and hospitality sector and regaining export market positions are of critical importance to the Irish food and drink industry for the rest of 2020 and 2021,” he said.
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