Scotland’s food and drinks sector could create 5,600 jobs by 2018

Scotland’s food and drinks sector could create 5,600 jobs by 2018, according to an industry survey by the Bank of Scotland.

By comparison, Ireland has even greater ambitions for job creation in its agri-food sector. Scotland’s growth ambitions amount to 19% over five years. Ireland’s growth ambitions for the sector’s exports alone are above 33% within seven years.

A per capita comparison would add further weight to Ireland’s ambitions. Ireland has a population of around 4.6m, versus Scotland’s 5.3m.

The Bank of Scotland estimates that Scotland’s food and drink sector could grow to an annual turnover of more than €14bn in that period. Ireland’s agri-food sector hopes to grow its exports, which account for 80% of total Irish output, to €12bn by 2020, up from €8.9bn last year.

In April, Kerry Group unveiled plans to create 900 jobs at its new dairy innovation centre in Naas, Co Kildare. Glanbia, Carbery and most alcoholic beverages producers have also unveiled growth plans this year.

In May, an Irish dairy industry report produced by the National Dairy Council predicted that the dairy sector alone could generate 15,000 jobs and €1.3bn in revenues annually within the next decade.

Meanwhile, of the more than 100 food and drinks companies surveyed by the Bank of Scotland, two thirds intend to increase their workforce over the next five years. Respondents said they were confident of creating at least 940 new jobs between them. If this reply replicated itself across the country, Scotland’s food and drinks industry would create 5,600 jobs, said the bank.

By comparison, the NDC’s report estimates that the Irish dairy alone could generate 15,000 jobs and €1.3bn in revenues annually within the next decade. The NDC says milk sales support 2,483 manufacturing jobs in dairies, supporting a further 9,932 jobs, equating to a total of 12,415 jobs in the Irish economy.

The NDC also cited local jobs boosted by Danone and SuperValu. Danone Ireland employs 572 people at its plants in Macroom and Wexford, and another 1,000 people indirectly. SuperValu spends €157m annually on Irish dairy products.

Both in the NDC’s report and in the broader Food Harvest 2020 produced by stakeholders from within every sector of Irish agri-food, dairy came out as the most ambitious single area.

FH2020 anticipates a 50% rise in milk output by 2020, driven by the abolition of milk quota restrictions in 2015.

Other Irish food and drink sectors are predicting output increase generally ranging from 10% to 30% over the same timeframe.

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