Brexit and foodservice closures impact prepared food exports

The 'Prepared Consumer Foods Virtual Sourcing Fair' this week will help sectors most reliant on the UK market
Brexit and foodservice closures impact prepared food exports

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said that after a challenging and disruptive year for the food industry around the world, many supply chains now find themselves having to adapt. Picture: Chris Bellew, Fennell Photography.

The 29% slump in the overall value of food and drink exports in January 2021, compared to December 2020, was partly due to forward shipping and stock building in the UK in anticipation of Brexit implementation, according to Bord Bia.

This week, the food board has organised the Prepared Consumer Foods Virtual Sourcing Fair, including more than 500 virtual trade meetings, to help the sector most reliant on the UK market.

In January, total exports (in value terms) of prepared consumer foods (PCF) globally were down 18%, compared to January 2020. 

“This €37.5 million decline is the largest decrease observed since the onset of the pandemic, and the first reflection of the impact of Brexit on trade. 

It also reflects the impact of the prolonged closure of the foodservice channel in many global markets,” according to Bord Bia.

PCF exports to the UK in January fell 19% year-on-year (the UK takes 68% of Irish PCF exports).

PCF buyers from the United Arab Emirates, US, and Europe are among those taking part in this week’s virtual trade meetings.

The PCF category includes meal solutions, confectionery, non-alcoholic beverages, ingredients and value-added meat, seafood, and horticulture.

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, said: “With uncertain changes in traditional export markets, the need to diversify into new priority markets for innovative prepared consumer food product companies has never been greater.” 

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said, “After what has been a challenging and disruptive year for the food industry around the world, we know that many supply chains need to adapt.” 

This week’s virtual sourcing fair kicks off a year-long initiative to help client companies in the PCF category accelerate growth by supporting diversification into prioritised markets.

PCF exports in 2020 were worth €2.5 billion, about 20% of Ireland’s global food and drink exports. 

The largest part of the PCF category, and the source of the largest decline in 2020, is value-added meats supplied almost entirely to the foodservice channel, which remained largely closed in many markets worldwide in 2020.

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia said: “After what has been a challenging and disruptive year for the food industry around the world, we know that many supply chains need to adapt. 

This coupled, with the fact that all of the major in-person food and beverage trade fairs in Europe and the US have been cancelled for the past 12 months, means that global customers are seeking out new ways to identify new suppliers and product innovations."

"Ireland’s Prepared Consumer Foods sector encompasses a wide range of innovative, sustainable, value-added food and beverage products that can meet these evolving needs. With 40 years exporting experience to retail, foodservice and manufacturing customers in more than 119 countries, this sector is highly responsive to consumer and market trends and creating insight-led innovation."

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