Ibec representative group Food Drink Industry Ireland has called for 'urgent new policy measures' to help the sector overcome the upcoming challenges of Brexit.
“Ireland’s largest indigenous sector faces substantial challenges in the years ahead in a world that has changed radically in 12 months,” said Paul Kelly, the director of the group, at the launch of its first Business Monitor report on Wednesday.
“On the international front, 2016 saw the risks from Brexit beginning to crystallise for Irish food and drink exporters. We witnessed a drop of €560m in UK exports, the formation of a new and uncertain global trade environment, and challenges to the integrity of the EU single market.
"At home in the domestic grocery market, declining consumer sentiment has given way to a decrease in sales relative to volume growth and this is putting further pressure on business costs".
He then called on the Irish government to rapidly implement a series of policy measures to ensure the sector had the innovation, competition, and ability necessary to meet the new difficulties and opportunities that Brexit represents.
Some of these steps included the reintroduction of the Employment Subsidy scheme and Enterprise Stabilisation measures, last invoked in 2009-2011, as well as sinking an investment of €25 million to kickstart market diversification and product innovation, with a goal of keeping UK market share and ramping up exports to the EU and international markets.
Finally, Kelly suggested a sustainable financing package including funds from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, state trade financing and enhanced State Aid rules to help introduce 'enabling' technologies.
“With one in eight jobs in Ireland linked to the agri-food sector, it is essential that the government act now to ensure the protection of these jobs and the future competitiveness of the industry. Failure to do so will result in the damage going far beyond the food and drinks industry in Ireland.”
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.