A dedicated team of Bord Bia food, drink and horticulture specialists will embark on a ‘Brexit Roadshow’ over the coming weeks visiting more than 150 Irish exporters nationwide. Following Theresa May’s announcement to trigger Article 50 on March 29th, this timely initiative will see fourteen Bord Bia sector managers travel across the country to conduct face to face in-depth analyses of the likely impact of Brexit on individual businesses. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD launched ‘Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer’, a new interactive analytical tool which will be used at each consultation to help companies identify and assess their unique Brexit requirements, risks and opportunities.
Developed by Bord Bia in conjunction with PwC Ireland, the Brexit Barometer includes 100 questions across six specific risk areas – Routes to Market, Customs and Tax, Supply Chain, Trade, Currency and Human Resources. With the support of an onsite Bord Bia specialist, the senior management team of each participating company will be requested to come together as a group to collectively discuss each of the areas and potential scenarios. As a company progresses through the Barometer, traffic light system feedback will be given at each stage, red representing highest risks, vulnerability and areas that need to be addressed. While Bord Bia expects the industry will be keen to engage, the organization is initially targeting companies with the highest dependency on the UK market. In 2016, Ireland exported €4.1 billion worth of food, drink and horticulture products to the UK market, representing 37% of our total exports. In particular, 54% of Irish meat and livestock exports and 90% of horticultural and cereal exports are destined for the UK.
Speaking in Bord Bia the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine TD Michael Creed TD said “With the triggering of Article 50 in sight it is timely that I launch this new Brexit support initiative, which I encourage all food exporters to engage with as much as possible. Since the Brexit referendum my Department has provided Bord Bia with €3.6 million in additional funding to develop new innovative proposals such as the ‘Brexit Barometer’. We remain focused on delivering continued support to the industry, helping it to defend its position in the UK and Europe, our most traditional markets that still account for 65-70% of all exports while diversifying into new international markets that offer huge growth potential. Undoubtedly there are challenging times ahead in the UK but there is resilience in the relationships that our food producers have with retailers and buyers.”
Meanwhile Tara McCarthy, Chief Executive Bord Bia said that Bord Bia’s bespoke approach was necessary as “we know Brexit will affect every sector and every company in a different way. Detailed feedback from our pilot ‘Brexit Baromoter’ programme, combined with extensive ongoing dialogue with our client companies, has provided Bord Bia with a unique insight into the industry's concerns. It is with this insight in mind that we developed the this tool to urge exporters conduct a comprehensive cross-functional analysis of all potential scenarios. The impacts of Brexit will reach into almost every aspect of our food, drink and horticulture businesses and we are aware there is no one solution that fits all and it is one the responsibility of any one person or department. To help futureproof a business, it is critical for companies to discuss exactly how each risk or challenge will impact the various divisions from finance and distribution to human resources and innovation. We want companies to engage at the highest level for their own benefit but also because the data we collect will be central to Bord Bia’s Brexit strategy hereon, including a review and realignment of all our programmes, initiatives and resources. We want to deliver data-driven supports to the industry.”
In addition to the Barometer, Bord Bia's recently launched Brexit initiatives include a number of Consumer and Market Insight studies across South East Asia, Africa, UK & Continental Europe; a new Market Placement Programme which will see additional Bord Bia staff working for key customers of Irish exporters on an internship basis; a fullreview of Bord Bia resources in an effort to ensure the impact is more acute than ever; a significantly increased participation in international Trade Fairs (one every fortnight in 2017) and increased number of Trade Missions and export market visits with a stronger focus on business conversion and some €650,000 additional funding has been allocated for marketing grants to help companies affected by Brexit. The organisation has also undertaken a comprehensive Sectoral Analysis to examine the challenges faced by each product and sector and appointed a dedicated Brexit Manager Mr. Shane Hamill who based in the UK and supported by a wider Bord Bia Brexit working group, chaired by Tara McCarthy.
The launch of Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer was to over 120 industry exporters and stakeholders during a Brexit seminar held in The Thinking House, Bord Bia’s new consumer insight and research centre. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed detailed the government’s Brexit response and the on-going negotiations while Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, delivered his perspective on the political journey ahead between the UK and the EU. Two panel discussions delivered the Irish exporters’ outlook focusing on the importance of defending Ireland’s position in the UK as well as export market diversification and provided a forum for a high level of engagement with the audience.
The UK perspective was examined by representatives from Ornua, Walsh Mushrooms, Glenpatrick and Country Crest who acknowledged the industry’s need to maintain its current level of trade and drive a preference for Ireland as a supplier in the UK, while the diversification story was told by exporters, Silver Hill Farm, The Jelly Bean Factory,Ribworld and Meat Industry Ireland, the representative association for the meat processing sector. The Irish companies also received insights from industry experts, Kantar andMCA, on the current and forecasted UK trading conditions.