Irish food and drink exporters have made huge strides in their Brexit preparations, according to Bord Bia's Brexit Barometer 2019: Results & Actions report.
The survey found 93% of 130 Irish companies surveyed making progress in their 'Brexit readiness', up from 74% in 2018.
Bord Bia rolled out its findings to 150 Irish food, drink and agri-business leaders and a panel of industry experts from Ireland and the UK.
The survey also found, however, that only around half of respondents had received completed replies from their UK customers to questionnaires they'd sent them on logistics and other practical issues.
“There is a gap between the Irish companies and their UK customers in terms of their understanding and preparedness for the cost increases,” said Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia.
Tara McCarthy calls on the Irish food and drink industry to engage formally with their UK customers ahead of Brexit: “There’s a need for increased formality on both sides. We need to be taking any trace of complacency out of our UK business dealings” #BrexitBarometer19 @Entirl pic.twitter.com/UeoMh0Fu2H— Irish Food Board (@Bordbia) June 26, 2019
“The UK participants in our Brexit panel tell us that companies in the UK have nothing like the detail that Irish companies are going into in their preparedness.”
The level of engagement from UK companies has been higher with larger Irish groups than with Irish SMEs.
Nonetheless, the overall level of Irish food and drink exports grew by 2% to €4.5bn last year, with the UK accounting for 37% of total Irish exports.
The surveying by Irish companies of their UK customers may have contributed to the 2% export boost.
Some 79% have spoken to their customers about Brexit in the past month, rising to 96% in the past three months, while many large food and drink firms cite daily conversations with key buyers.
Key discussion topics are stockholding (58%), customs duties (47%) and the sharing of general Brexit updates (42%).
In the past year, 57% of respondents reported an increase in sales to the UK and a further 29% reported stable revenues.
In all, 86% of respondents are clear that Brexit will have an impact on their business but 68% are still uncertain about what that impact will be.
Some 89% of Irish companies have actively mapped their supply chain, but 62% have identified a critical dependency on a supply chain partner.
In all, 69% of respondents say their commercial model is sensitive to any increase in lead times.
As a result, 70% of companies have developed contingency options for holding stock in response to Brexit, with 85% of companies activating those plans.
“The level of preparation among Irish companies has been fantastic,” said Tara McCarthy.
“However, planning won't insulate them from the challenges.
“We are still planning for the worst and hoping for the best. People are planning for a 'No Deal' scenario. Being overprepared is never a disadvantage.”
More than half of respondents estimate Brexit could shave up to 10% off their profits.
As a result, 29% of respondents have put investments on hold while 20% have delayed or put operational spend on hold.