Cashflow still a challenge for food producers

Most Irish food producers are experiencing growth but cashflow and financial support are major challenges.

That is according to an all-island survey of more than 2,000 food producers which found that over 90% are experiencing growth but for almost half (45%), cashflow is their biggest challenge.

One in four producers said securing investment is their biggest challenge.

Despite the challenges, almost half of the producers (48%) said they were considering exporting their goods.

The survey’s publication yesterday coincided with the launch of the eighth annual Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards, by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

It is Ireland’s biggest and most prestigious competition for quality produce, and this year the Irish Examiner is media partner for the coveted awards.

The vast majority of the producers surveyed said government and state agency supports had played a vital role in their business development.

Mr Coveney said it was not surprising that cashflow and financial support are major challenges for producers.

“We are looking at multiple ways in which we can respond to that,” he said, urging producers to use Bord Bia, local enterprise offices, and Enterprise Ireland to identify the financial options and supports that are available to help their business grow and expand.

Mr Coveney said he believes the financial environment is now improving, particularly for food producers.

The chairman and founder of Blas na hÉireann, Arty Clifford, said the food awards attracted 400 entries when the competition was first held in 2008.

The Blas awards are the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country. There were 2,200 entries last year and that number is expected to be surpassed by hundreds more come June 17, the closing date for online entries.

Mr Clifford said codes will be used to track the product through a judging system developed by Blas and the Food Science Department at University College Cork.

The winners of the awards, which will be presented for the likes of supreme champion and best artisan producer, will be revealed in Dingle, Co Kerry, on October 3.

www.irishfoodawards.com

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