Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec group that represents the food sector, today launched its Budget 2019 submission, which calls on the Government to introduce a series of measures to help the sector maintain its competitiveness and achieve its growth potential against the backdrop of Brexit and a significant weakening of pound sterling.
It highlights that in the context of Brexit, companies will need support to diversify products and market focus, innovate both products and processes, and realign their business models to mitigate the impacts of such a market shock. Supporting our domestic industries will help to offset the worst impacts of Brexit. In this context, there must be a stronger delivery on Brexit preparation and mitigation domestically.
Although major uncertainties make it difficult for the Government to plan ahead, the time for preparation is now. Ibec members will be making key decisions in advance of March, 2019, and the Government can play a greater role by putting in place a multi-annual framework for funding Brexit mitigation beginning in Budget 2019. The resources required will be in the region of 5% of the value of current annual export sales to the UK (€650m over three years).
FDI Director, Paul Kelly, said: “The economic contribution of the food and drink sector is greater than any other industrial sector due to agri-food’s deep linkages to the wider economy, particularly in regional areas. The longer-term opportunities largely remain for the Irish food and drink sector. However, the immediate response must be to ensure the sector is fit for purpose to meet the substantial challenges ahead. Whilst agri-food is the economic sector most at risk in the event of hard Brexit, and indeed will suffer significant disruption whatever the nature of the UK exit from the EU, there are also other challenges that need to be addressed. The FDI submission also calls for measures to:
- Help companies attract and retain skilled workers and address labour shortages
- Unlock growth potential through innovation
- Support sustainable agri-food solutions
- Support efforts to improve workplace wellbeing.