Monday, 21st August 2017
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The results of the survey, which gathered the views of Love Irish Food member brand CEOs, were launched today (Thursday 1st) at the Love Irish Food Marquee at Bloom's Food Village in the Phoenix Park.

Love Irish Food, as an organisation, works with the food and drinks industry to safeguard the future of the branded food and drink manufacturing sectors in Ireland with its members employing more than 15,000 people in food and allied businesses across the Irish economy.

The Love Irish Food survey, which received a 70% response rate, also found that 89% food and drinks business leaders had already felt an impact of Brexit, with 33% noting that impact had been "significant" to date.

Similarly, 60% of the chief executives surveyed believe the expected impact of Brexit will be "significant" over the next 18 months.

In terms of input costs, CEOs noted that currency was the primary immediate concern to impact on profitability for their companies during Brexit, while 64% believe sales development will be a key activity in maintaining their company's performance.

Meanwhile, in what may be seen as a clear affirmation of the Irish food and drinks industry's commitment to Europe, 93% of the CEOs surveyed do not believe there will be a so-called ‘Ire-Exit'.

Launching the survey's results, economist and Love Irish Food Chairman, Jim Power, said:

"There can be no doubt that Brexit has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the food and drinks industry in Ireland - the views of some the sectors' most senior business leaders surveyed by Love Irish Food clearly attest to that. The food sector is undoubtedly the most exposed sector of the economy to negative Brexit outcomes. Given this, there should be no surprise that the vast majority of those surveyed do not believe there will be an Ire-Exit. This is a clear affirmation of the Irish food and drinks industry's commitment to Europe."

Love Irish Food's Executive Director, Kieran Rumley, said: "Brexit poses a clear and definite risk to the Irish food and drinks sector. As a nation, we need to acknowledge just how important this industry is, not just for the jobs it creates but for the locally made food and drinks it produces.The domestic market has a need for local tastes in its food and drink products. The success of Irish produced brands is a testament to this and Irish produced brands are well placed to deliver products matching this market demand. The potential imposition of import tariffs from UK produced food companies has the opportunity to increase the competitive position for local producers emphasising local market taste needs."

Also commenting on the results of the survey, Colin Gordon, CEO of Glanbia Consumer Foods, a Love Irish Food member brand, said:

"There is no hiding the risks of Brexit to the food and drinks industry in Ireland, particularly with regard to currency and profitability. Something the Love Irish Food CEO Survey has highlighted is the need for businesses within the food and drink sector in Ireland to safeguard themselves against the risks of Brexit. All stakeholders should take up this opportunity and need to ensure the least amount of risk to the most important industry in Ireland."

On a positive note, almost half (45%) of CEOs surveyed insist that Britain's exit from the European Union could create positive opportunities for the food and drinks sector here.

The Love Irish Food CEO Survey also found that almost half (45%) of the food and drinks business leaders surveyed do not expect their company's export revenues to change during Brexit. This is despite estimates that the UK accounts for 70% of prepared consumer foods and 30% of beverage exports from Ireland*.

Interestingly, 93% of respondents do not expect their Irish revenues to decrease during Brexit, while half of that cohort (47%) in fact expects revenues here to increase. However, 53% of the surveyed chief executives do expect their company's profit levels to decrease as a consequence of Brexit and the resulting currency and input costs.

"Overall, the survey shows just how significant a challenge Brexit poses to the Irish food and drinks industry. It is interesting that while there is optimism about future revenue growth, there is an acceptance that profits will come under pressure. The survey, however, also shows how resilient the food industry is," Mr Power added.

"The Irish food industry will rise to the challenge posed by Brexit, but careful planning and official assistance will be required to steer the industry through this unprecedented challenge," Mr Power concluded.

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