Food Wise 2025

Chapter 3 - National Context
SWOT

Strengths

  • Sustainable Production Systems (grass based)

  • Favourable Animal Health Status

  • EU Single Market Access

  • Benchmark industry leaders

  • Research Eco-system

  • Proximity to productive fishing grounds

Weaknesses

  • Scale including lack of raw material for seafood, beverages, forestry sectors

  • Land Mobility

  • Levels of R&D Investment by Private Sector

  • Cost Competitiveness

  • Skills gaps - Capability and Availability all along supply chain

  • Access to Finance

Opportunities

  • Growth in global demand for nutritious food.

  • Growth in demand for new products associated with latest consumer trends

  • Green/Sustainable Reputation

  • Expansion in Dairy, Meat, PCF and Seafood Sectors

  • Potential for new Foreign Direct Investments (FDI)

Threats

  • Price Volatility/Lack of Profitability

  • Foreign exchange fluctuation

  • Supply Chain Disruption due to potential disease or food safety risks

  • Challenging Green House Gas and Air Emission targets

  • Global Competition

  • Biodiversity loss and reduced water quality

  • Fish stock depletio

The recent economic and financial crisis has re-enforced and emphasised the importance of this sector to the Irish economy.Irish food and beverage exports have continued to perform well against all other sectors of the economy over the last number of years. While Irish merchandise exports as a whole grew by almost 4% between 2009 and 2013, food and beverage exports rose to a record high of almost €10.5 billion, representing a 45% increase since 2009. This export focussed growth underlines the strategic importance of the agri-food industry to the Irish economy and demonstrates the sector’s resilience through this economic crisis despite the many challenges faced by producers and agri-food companies.

Given the indigenous nature of the sector its resilience is even more significant as the sector is dispersed widely throughout the country and is therefore providing economic benefits to many rural areas, in fact the sector is the main economic driver of many rural and regional areas. The impact of direct jobs in the sector is multiplied across the wider economy and this multiplier is greater for the agri-food sector than other economic sectors as a result of the high volume of indigenous inputs used by the sector.

This geographic spread across the country further emphasises the importance of the sector to Ireland and the Irish economy. It is in this context that the sector must be regarded and recognised as a strategically important economic sector for Ireland.  This strategic importance and the significant potential for future growth by the industry make it imperative that the sector continues to be fully supported by all stakeholders – Government, state agencies, producers, agri-food companies and processors.  The potential of the industry to grow jobs, to increase exports, to enhance sustainable production, to innovate and develop new products and bring economic growth to all parts of the country represents an enormous opportunity for Ireland, an opportunity which can increase the wellbeing of the country exponentially.

This strategy identifies critical actions and approaches which will provide this strategic and economically important industry with the best environment and tools to fulfil the substantial potential growth opportunities which exist over the next 10 years, while acknowledging that certain fiscal constraints remain as a result of the recent economic crisis.