The sectors continuing ambition is reflected in the €19 billion export target in Food Wise 2025. This ambition is however grounded in the reality that Ireland’s food and drink industry faces an extremely challenging climate in 2017 and beyond in domestic and export markets.
The UK vote to leave the EU is a fracture of the single market and the most immediate challenge facing the Irish agri-food sector. Market diversification and overall export growth will be challenged by a new global trade environment caused by the US withdrawal from TTP negotiations, a general move away from multi-lateral to bi-lateral deals and the potential for trade wars which could result in a damaging displacement effect in markets. The EU single market faces other challenges beyond Brexit including a number of member states to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling.
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 in a world that has changed radically in 12 months. This brings into sharp focus the need to ensure the necessary policy measures are implemented so that the Irish food sector is highly cost competitive and innovative.
With one in eight jobs in the economy linked to agri-food, failure to do this will be damaging to the wider economy and not just the food and drink industry.