The indigenous nature of the agri-food industry, its deep foundation in the Irish economy, its international orientation and potential for development places it in a unique position to actively contribute to a national drive to secure sustainable economic renewal.
The Irish food, drink and horticulture industry, given current opportunities and challenges in the global market, has the potential to boost export returns and approach €10 billion in annual export revenues by 2011. Strongest growth potential exists in dairy, prepared foods, beef and alcoholic beverages. The potential for seafood, for which Bord Bia is to assume marketing and promotional responsibilities, rests on its positive image and association with a healthy lifestyle.
Meanwhile, a strong position on the domestic market is critical to Irish food manufacturers if they are to build success overseas. The retail food and beverage market has grown significantly and is now valued at €billion at consumer prices. However, rising costs, adverse currency movements and increased import competition, partly associated with growing international retail presence with its own overseas supply base, is placing new pressures on Irish suppliers, leading to structural change and some offshoring.
Addressing the industry's capacity to compete successfully at home and overseas has assumed a new urgency if it is to boost its export performance and maximise its share on the home market.