Bord Bia unveils measures to tackle Covid-19 pandemic

Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture sector has been severely impacted by the crisis

Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy said the supports are ‘highly tailored’ to tackle the specific impacts of the crisis. Photograph: Iain White/Fennell Photography

Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy said the supports are ‘highly tailored’ to tackle the specific impacts of the crisis. Photograph: Iain White/Fennell Photography

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Bord Bia has announced details of its supports strategy for the Republic’s food, drink and horticulture sector as it grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, including a €1 million marketing grant scheme.

A key driver of the Irish economy, Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports reached a record €13 billion in 2019, delivering 67 per cent growth in a decade.

The “Navigating Change” Covid-19 strategy has been developed for the Bord Bia website where industry can access details of grants, market insights, business supports, expert webinars and podcasts.

Bord Bia has also announced a €1 million marketing grant scheme for manufacturers to accelerate ecommerce and expand marketing activities in the context of rapidly changing trading conditions. The deadline for applications is April 16th.

Bord Bia’s Navigating Change report indicates coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, is affecting all aspects of the Irish food and drinks industry, but the impact is very different across sectors, with the food service industry the most severely impacted.

It has experienced a “near-total collapse in demand” due to the temporary shutdown of the hospitality sector.

Disposable income

Retail and grocery, meanwhile, is experiencing dramatic increases in demand, but with significant redundancies across Europe and the US, medium-term consumer spending in retail is projected to reduce as consumers’ disposable income is impacted.

The beef sector is experiencing “carcass imbalance” wherein consumer demand for lower value cuts like mince is increasing while demand for higher value steak cuts – often sold to foodservice restaurant customers – is falling sharply.

Bord Bia said it will keep clients up-to-date on the impact of Covid-19 on trade and the implications for Ireland through a number of mechanisms, including a biweekly “Navigating Change: Markets Focus Report” detailing supply and demand trends.

There will also be training and mentoring programmes, including in relation to future-proofing the industry and planning for a post Covid-19 future. Bord Bia said it will seek to identify new behavioural norms that are likely to emerge among consumers.

Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy said the supports are “highly tailored” to tackle the specific impacts the Covid-19 crisis is having on the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry.

Spiking demand

“A core dynamic has emerged whereby food and drink companies are seeing a dramatic reduction in demand from food service customers countered by spiking demand in retail, for different products,” she said.

“At the same time, factory floor constraints, supply chain challenges and varying international market dynamics all have the potential to cause significant disruption.

“Covid-19 is an unprecedented challenge for our industry; the scale and enormity of the challenges we face are changing rapidly and so too must our supports. The Bord Bia team around the world is fully committed to supporting the food industry adapt to new market conditions to survive today and to reset with the ambition of winning again as markets recover.”