Food Wise 2025

Chapter 6 – Delivering Growth

Market Development

The global evolving market environment while complex, presents enormous potential opportunities for Irish producers.  With these opportunities come some challenges which the sector must recognise and address if the opportunities are to be realised fully.  Global markets represent global competition and continued international trade liberalisation will lower trade barriers and Irish goods will increasingly be competing for market share with other food exporting countries. This should drive the sector to address cost competitiveness and productivity issues which will allow Irish products compete on international markets and ensure investment in innovation, research and development by the Irish agri-food sector is driven by consumer insights.

In order to achieve the growth opportunities which are available to the Irish agri-food sector over the next ten years there needs to be a focus on market development underpinned by appropriate resources to prioritise market opportunities and the development and protection of Ireland’s credentials and systems of producing high quality, safe and sustainable food.

As globalisation and modern global communications infrastructure continue to reduce the distance between producer and consumer, there is a growing imperative and necessity for future expansion of the sector to be driven by in-depth consumer insights thus ensuring Ireland is producing what the customer wants in the most innovative and efficient manner. This will result in Irish products being targeted at the most appropriate markets, market segments and delivering maximum value addition and benefit to the Irish economy.

This market prioritisation analysis must be driven by in-depth consumer demand insights, to ensure the sector has the tools to make investment and market decisions based on clear understandings of consumer trends and market conditions for different markets and specific segments of markets they wish to explore. This market analysis must also include an assessment of the regulatory environments in potential new markets to avoid wasting resources on markets which are unlikely to be opened due to political reasons.

A key fundamental underpinning the sector’s ability to access and grow exports in international markets is Ireland’s reputation for producing sustainable, safe and high quality food. The systems supporting this reputation must be enhanced and re-enforced to protect this reputation.

Recommendations

Recommendation

State Agencies to review the deployment of human resources in overseas locations to maximise support for trade development and realisation of market opportunities, in consultation with industry stakeholders.

Actions

  • DAFM, Bord Bia and EI to explore synergies and priorities for the deployment of human resources in specific markets, including possibilities for relocation, new posts and new offices based on market prioritisation which considers growth possibilities, consumer insights, political stability of regions/countries and the market access regulatory environment.

  • DAFM and agri-food state agencies to enhance linkages with other government agencies including Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade embassy network, IDA, DJEI – Tourism Ireland and leverage the resources in these agencies to support the Irish agri-food sector in accessing new markets.

  • DAFM to review and assess the assignment of Agri-food Attaché posts in the context of supporting industry trade development opportunities and priorities.

  • Bord Bia to increase market presence in emerging markets with particular focus on Asian and African countries.

  • Bord Bia to continue to build Ireland’s reputation and raise the awareness of Ireland with key customers globally through the Origin Green Ambassador and Market Placement programmes.

 

Recommendation

State Agencies to support market prioritisation and targeting.

Actions

  • Establish mechanisms to support market prioritisation strategies and market decision making through provision of consumer insights in specific regional and country markets including by exploring the feasibility of establishing a Centre for Consumer Insights.

  • Bord Bia to continue to invest in innovative buyer contact initiatives and inward buyer visits across all existing markets and introduce into emerging markets.

  • Bord Bia to maintain support for Marketplace 2018 and broaden focus on emerging markets and to deliver 50% of buyers from non EU markets.

  • Bord Bia to enhance its lead generation programme across all regions to deliver market and business prospects.

  • DAFM to optimise the use of strategic trade missions to emerging markets to ensure market entry conversion.

  • Industry to pursue and seek joint venture/partnership opportunities to enhance market access opportunities.

 

Promoting ‘Ireland’ in New Markets

Many of the high potential growth markets for Irish agri-food exports are outside of EU and other developed countries and are therefore in regions which may not be familiar with Ireland’s strong reputation for producing high quality, nutritious and safe food but even more fundamentally than this many of the consumers in these markets are not be familiar with Ireland’s identity as a country with a strong distinctive culture and a green and natural environment.  Ireland, with its unique culture, friendly people, natural landscapes and attractive environment needs to be marketed in a distinctive manner in these regions so that when Irish agri-food companies enter these markets there is already a recognition, knowledge and image of Ireland which resonates with consumers, marking out what makes Ireland special and why Ireland is a country which can be trusted to deliver high quality goods. There is a strong connection between this perspective of ‘Ireland’ and the Irish tourism and agri-food sectors. These two economic sectors are key indigenous industries driving export growth and they are interlinked and provide complementary benefits to each other, this complementarity must be capitalised on so that both sectors gain maximum benefits for the economy.

The strategy recommends actions to develop markets and support the sector in realising the global market growth opportunities. These opportunities include increased commitment of resources by agri-food government agencies to market development, development of the knowledge and recognition of ‘Ireland’s image’ in potential markets, enhancement of the Origin Green Programme as a watermark of Ireland’s sustainable food production systems and the further enhancement and protection of Ireland’s world class food safety status.

Recommendation

Government Departments and State Agencies to enhance cooperation on promoting Ireland’s positioning in emerging export markets

Actions

  • Establish an interdepartmental group to develop complementary approaches across Government agencies to promote ‘Ireland’ in emerging distant markets and to promote synergies between Irish tourism, agri-food and culture.

  • Develop promotional marketing material to sell Ireland’s - positive green environmental credentials, modern young well educated economy, research capacity, food environment (high quality, food safe) including positive imagery, social media and videos.

  • DAFM to explore with relevant state agencies measures to better link in the agri-food sector with  the experience of tourists, including the promotion of food,  beverages and  marine trails.

  • Build on the success of marketing Irish Whiskey and beers internationally by demonstrating the linkages of these products to the wider agri-food sector.

Origin Green

Origin Green is Ireland’s sustainability charter tapping into Ireland’s existing reputation as a grass-based, green and dynamic food and beverage supplier and assisting Ireland’s food and beverage industry to become a world leader in high-quality sustainable production.

While the current focus is on Origin Green as a Business to Business (B2B) brand there is potential for Origin Green as the platform upon which the broader recognition and promotion of world leading Irish food and beverages will be built. Origin Green will therefore continue to build and evolve – becoming a Business to Consumer (B2C) as well as B2B watermark brand and key marketing tool– so that consumers in Ireland and more widely on international markets come to recognise it as evidence of the high quality food and drink sustainably produced in Ireland.

Transparency and safe supply chains are a critical component of the Origin Green ambition.  Consumer trust in where their food comes from and how it is made is vital for manufacturers, retailers and indeed the reputation of Ireland’s food and drink industry.  Producers recognise the priority that should be given to transparency throughout the supply chain. Without safe and transparent supply chains, the vision for the Irish food and drink industry cannot be achieved. Indeed there is clear strategic advantage in a well-developed trust chain that has credibility in the eyes of consumers.

Recommendation

Further enhance Origin Green Programme as a tool to measure and demonstrate in domestic and global markets Ireland’s credentials as a producer of sustainable, safe, nutritious and high quality food.

Actions

  • Bord Bia to develop a messaging programme to communicate, in partnership with industry, the benefits of Origin Green membership to producer stakeholders to ensure greater adoption and engagement with the programme by producers across all agri-food production sectors.

  • Bord Bia to develop a mentoring programme to work with verified members to help them articulate their sustainability efforts to key customers and stakeholders and to gain recognition in the marketplace.

  • Bord Bia to enhance the Origin Green Ambassador programme building ongoing relationships with targeted customers to increase awareness and understanding of Origin Green and drive a preference for Ireland as a sustainable source of supply. 

  • Bord Bia to expand scope of programme to include retail and foodservice sectors by developing charters relevant to each sector.

  • Provide further funding for consumer insight to identify and understand how consumer differences across geographical markets will impact on Origin Green messaging around sustainability to allow the brand to transition from B2B to B2C.

Animal Health Status

Healthy animals are more efficient at transforming farm inputs into food outputs, thus maximising farm profitability and supporting competitiveness.  Ireland’s animal populations have in general a favourable animal health status.  This, however, is subject to risk factors – some external as well as inherent risks associated with a wide and varied producer and manufacturing base. As Ireland moves towards a greater sustainable intensification of production to fulfil its growth targets any associated potential animal health issues must be addressed and managed appropriately to ensure risks are controlled.

Given the value of Ireland’s animal health status to the industry in terms of accessing export markets and producing high quality raw materials the preservation and protection of this status must be supported by both public and private sector actors.  There is therefore a need for greater focus on and delivery of improved animal health which provides both private and public goods and provides a rationale for public intervention, through public/private partnerships, to address animal health issues in a cohesive and coordinated way.  In the absence of such a sustained coordinated approach,  the industry could be held back from realising the benefits of addressing endemic contagious diseases and risks from exotic diseases.

Recommendation

Continue to enhance and support Ireland’s animal health status and reputation for producing safe, high quality food.

Actions

  • DAFM, in consultation with stakeholders, to formulate a National Farmed Animal Health Strategy for Ireland which will provide the framework for an evidence based, co-ordinated and  collaborative approach to animal health matters in support of on-farm productivity, processor efficiency and export markets.

  • DAFM and industry to build on the recent substantive progress towards the eradication of bovine Tuberculosis, by setting an ambitious target of eradicating tuberculosis from the cattle herd in Ireland by 2030.

  • Reflecting the need for strong leadership and involvement by all stakeholders in sustaining such progress and pursuing this objective, a high level national industry forum will be put in place to provide coordinated industry leadership in support of the DAFM executive team. The forum composition will represent the interests of farmers, industry, and government. Its role will be to review the strategic programme on an ongoing basis, facilitate agreement on appropriate new programme measures and targets and ensure the constructive participation by all parties in sustaining progress towards eradication.

  • Industry and state agencies continue to enhance support for Animal Health Ireland and agree an equitable sustainable funding model that will sustain the organisation over next ten years.

  • AHI and relevant stakeholders to address already identified animal health related production inefficiencies associated with endemic disease on Irish farms by:

    • Completing the BVD eradication programme within an established timeframe.
    • Maintaining progress on the SCC Cellecheck programme and achieving the programme objective target of continuing to improve milk quality.
    • Evaluating the results of the Johnes’ Disease Pilot programme with a view to putting in place a sustainable voluntary Johnes’ Disease control programme.
    • Evaluating benefit/cost of initiating programmes and, where appropriate, develop and bring forward strategies/programmes  aimed at addressing the current levels of
      1. Calf mortality
      2. Dairy cow lameness
      3. Fertility rates in suckler herds
      4. Sheep genetics and breeding
    •  

  • DAFM to support the carrying out an economic appraisal by Teagasc of the benefit/costs of implementing a compulsory national IBR eradication programme for consideration by AHI and its stakeholders with the expectation that if the outcome shows a favourable return on resource deployed that a national eradication programme will be initiated by 2019.

  • DAFM and industry to progress and improve the return to producers and their advisors relevant data arising from ante and post mortem inspection at meat plants, in support of optimising on-farm productivity, through improved animal health.

  • Recognising global societal concerns relating to the threat to human and animal health of anti-microbial resistance, and in that context, the need to ensure prudent use of anti-microbials in animal production systems, DAFM will, in consultation with stakeholders, continue to advance its action plan and develop implementation strategies for veterinary practitioners and farmers in relation to anti-microbial usage.

  • DAFM should enjoin industry stakeholders to enhance existing systems for surveillance of animal diseases to facilitate early detection of new/emerging and exotic disease and to provide a more robust evidence base substantiating marketing claims about the animal health and welfare status of the national herd/flock and supporting disease control at farm level.   

  • MI to support actions that promote an expanded range of treatments for pests in salmon fisheries.

  • DAFM and agencies to promote the development of  new medicines and measures to strengthen control of sea lice on salmon farms.

  • State agencies to continue to advance shellfish safety monitoring and science.   

 

High Food Safety Status

Irish agriculture and food production is produced to the highest international standards of quality and food safety and Irish food safety and traceability systems are recognised as among the very best in the world. All along the value chain there are rigorous, robust and comprehensive testing and monitoring regimes.  This status is fundamental to the continued growth of international markets for Irish goods and will need to be maintained and enhanced if the 2025 growth forecasts are to be achieved.

EU legislation provides a regulatory framework for dealing with recognised risks to the food chain and ensures harmonised standards across EU member states, facilitating intra-community trade. However, by definition, controls prescribed in legislation are inflexible and do not provide specific safeguards against new and previously unforeseen risks. In addition, the EU cannot legislate for all known hazards to the food chain. Consequently, the Irish Agri-Food industry may be exposed to specific risks for which current EU regulations do not provide adequate safeguards. No single entity has the capacity and authority to anticipate and mitigate these new and emerging threats to the food chain. Therefore in keeping with best international practice, multi-stakeholder collaboration by DAFM, FSAI and industry is required and this must be seen as a shared responsibility of both public and private concerns.

Recommendation

The Irish Agri-food industry should enhance its strong credentials in food safety through a public-private collaboration aimed at anticipating and mitigating new and emerging risks to the food chain.     

 Action

  • DAFM, FSAI and industry to combine resources and intelligence gathering capacity to improve monitoring and predictive capacity which will result in more timely responses to food safety threats which may arise and ongoing communication.

  • Review laboratory capacity to ensure effectiveness to address potential  disease outbreak or food scares

  • Prioritise research to ensure the development of state of the art methodologies to identify and assess the risks with biological and chemical contamination of food and develop the controls to mitigate against these risks.

  • Prioritise research to ensure that the Irish food industries have the best available technologies and systems that will assist in identifying and controlling risks arising from microbial and chemical contaminants.