Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec group that represents the food sector, has launched its Budget 2019 submission, which calls on the government to introduce a series of measures to help the agri-food sector maintain its competitiveness.
The representative group is hoping to see a series of measures introduced that will help the industry achieve its growth potential - despite the backdrop of Brexit and a significant weakening of sterling.
The report highlights that, as a result of Brexit, companies will need support to diversify products and market focus, innovate both products and processes, and re-align their business models to mitigate the impacts of such a market shock.
The FDI believes that supporting domestic industries will help to offset the worst impacts of Brexit, and demands a stronger delivery on Brexit preparation and mitigation domestically.
“The economic contribution of the food and drink sector is greater than any other industrial sector due to agri-food’s deep linkages to the wider economy, particularly in regional areas,” said Paul Kelly, director of FDI.
“The longer-term opportunities largely remain for the Irish food and drink sector. However, the immediate response must be to ensure the sector is fit for purpose to meet the substantial challenges ahead.”
Although major uncertainties make it difficult for Government to plan ahead, FDI insist that action must be taken now. It revealed that the industry will be making its own preparations and the government can play a greater role by introducing funding towards Brexit mitigation in Budget 2019.
The group said that resources required will be in the region of 5% of the value of current annual export sales to the UK, which is approximately €650 million over three years.
Whilst it agrees that the agri-food is the economic sector most at risk, FDI added that there are other challenges that need to be addressed.
It has called on the government to help companies attract and retain skilled workers and address labour shortages, unlock growth potential through innovation, support sustainable agri-food solutions, and to support efforts to improve workplace wellbeing.
© 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.