Robust growth through exports for food and drink sector
The Irish food and drink sector continues to play a leading role in the Irish economy as strong export growth leaves the industry well positioned, according to chief executive of Bord Bia Aidan Cotter.
In the Top 250 Exporters report published recently he noted that over the 2010 to 2011 period, the value of exports jumped by a quarter, or €1.8bn, to leave revenues valued at €8.84bn across more than 170 countries worldwide.
“The strength of this performance is demonstrated by the fact that the sector accounted for a quarter of the total growth in merchandise exports in 2011, having grown at around three times the rate of that of total trade,” he said.
“There are few obvious comparisons, in any sector of the Irish economy, of such robust and sustainable growth being achieved through exports. To do so against a backdrop of continued global economic uncertainty makes these figures all the more noteworthy.”
In addition to a strong overall performance, the increasing diversification of our food and drink export base was a notable development in 2011.
The value of exports to continental European markets increased by 16pc to €3bn, with particularly strong performances in the Netherlands, Germany and France, said Cotter.
“The strong performance of Irish companies in international markets, which saw trade grow by a fifth to €2.2bn, also offers a signpost to future growth opportunities, and affirms the competitiveness of the Irish supply base.”
A key factor behind the strength of commodity prices has been the rising global demand for food and the growing sophistication of consumers in developing economies.
These developments offer major long-term opportunities for Ireland, according to Cotter. However, he says it has to be recognised that these long-term trends do not come without short-term risks: “The industry is well versed in the disruptive impacts of currency flux, price volatility, supply shocks, weather events and market speculation. That said the sector has built up a considerable level of expertise with respect to managing export risk.”
Cotter says individual Irish food and drink companies which have positioned themselves in markets that continue to be extremely price competitive deserve credit.
“The success of our sector in growing exports owes much to the marketing and sales capabilities of our exporting companies that continue to support 230,000 Irish jobs both directly and indirectly.
“The continued optimism voiced through Bord Bia’s leadership survey at the end 2011 where some 85pc of respondents viewed the prospects for 2012 as good or very good, confirms the ongoing determination to win new market share.
“Respondents highlighted increased investments in new product offerings and a focus on competitiveness as being key drivers of their business growth. Such a focus leaves the sector well positioned for short term market challenges as they emerge.”