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Welcome to the January edition of Bord Bia's Ireland Market Foodservice Newsletter – wishing you all a very happy new year and we are looking forward to seeing what 2020 will have to offer for the Irish Foodservice market!   

Bord Bia’s annual Small Business event will take place next Wednesday 22nd January in Hotel Kilkenny, with 2020 being the event’s 10th year! The event is an opportunity for Bord Bia’s Small Business clients (with a turnover below €3.5million) to come together to network amongst their peers, receive updates from Bord Bia and hear from speakers within the industry. There will also feature a Foodservice stand on the day for any Foodservice queries. 

General Industry News

2019 saw first decline in Irish tourism economy for 8 years

Business World – 30.12.2019

The tourism economy saw its first decline in 8 years as revenue fell by 1% although volume grew marginally. The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) today warned that sustaining success in the tourism sector in 2020 requires pro-active Government intervention.The tourism industry in Ireland was worth €9.3 billion in 2019 with 265,000 people employed in the sector. However the umbrella group, representing key tourism stakeholders, stated that Brexit, the VAT hike, and increased costs of business have all put significant pressure on the industry and ITIC stressed that more needs to be done in 2020 to support Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer.

Consumers buoyed by Brexit deal in December

RTE – 10.01.2020

Consumer sentiment improved in December to post the first back-to-back monthly gain in four years as the risk of a damaging 'no-deal' Brexit receded. KBC Bank Ireland's consumer sentiment index rose to 81.4 in December, from 77.1 in November and the seven-year low of 69.5 in October. The improvement represents the largest two-month gain since January 2015, though sentiment is still some way short of the 17-year-high of 110.4 reached in early 2018. Ireland has remained the European Union's fastest growing economy during three years of Brexit talks. But consumer confidence faltered when it seemed that the UK could leave the bloc without agreeing to a withdrawal deal.

Restaurants Association of Ireland hits back at proposed Calories on Menus legislation

Restaurants Association of Ireland – 07.01.2020

The Restaurants Association of Ireland are outraged at proposed new legislation, which would see displaying calories on menus becoming mandatory for all restaurants, pubs, catering establishments and eateries. Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said: “It looks like this proposed legislation for presenting calories on menus is being rammed through by the Government with little thought about the negative effects it will have. This really is nanny-statism at its best. Enforcing calorie count menus will cost the state tens of millions of euro to implement, money that would quite frankly be better spent elsewhere. Chefs will also be spending more and more time doing paperwork than in the kitchen, which will do nothing to make the career more appealing when we are facing a chef shortage. The RAI are calling for Education not Legislation. We want to see Home Economics or Food Science equivalent mandatory in Second-Level and we need more comprehensive food education on the Primary education syllabus.


Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) & Pub Sector

Burger King's meat-free burger isn't suitable for vegetarians or vegans

The Journal – 06.01.2020

Burger King’s plant-based burger, which is available in Ireland, is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians. The global burger chain’s Rebel Whopper, which is made from soy, launched in Ireland late last year and is available in the UK from today. However, vegetarians or vegans who might want to try the burger will be set for disappointment because the burger isn’t vegan or vegetarian because of the way it’s been cooked. The small print of the promotional material released in Ireland states: “The Rebel Whopper is meat-free and flame-grilled on our broiler to retain the same flame-grilled taste as our meat burgers. Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.”

Tourists find Irish nightlife 'disappointing', Taoiseach says

Irish Examiner – 25.12.2019

Ireland's drinking laws should be reviewed as visitors here often are left disappointed when premises serving alcohol shut down too early, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said. Mr Varadkar said the licensing laws needed to change, as he noted cities such as Madrid and Berlin where premises stay open all night and there has not been an increase in public order offences. Asked by journalists if the licensing laws were archaic and needed change with tourists being asked to leave licensed venues at 11pm, Mr Varadkar responded: “Yeah, I think they do. I don't necessarily think that we need to have the same licensing laws for everywhere. Suburban Dublin is different to town and rural areas are different again. So I think we do need to have a degree of local control around licensing. But, you know, people who come to Dublin and come to other Irish cities and people go abroad from Ireland do say that our nightlife can be disappointing and that premises shut down too early.


Hotel & Restaurant Sector

Hundreds of restaurants at risk of closure as insurers exit hospitality sector

The Irish Times – 20.12.2019

The new year could see the closures of hundreds of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops across the country as four of the companies offering insurance to the sector have announced their intention to withdraw from the market.The dramatic contraction in the number of companies willing to offer quotes to small businesses could see the cost of some insurance premiums increase by almost 200 per cent and in an industry with notoriously thin margins, increases of that magnitude could lead to many businesses shutting, it has been warned.

IHF releases results of its latest industry barometer

Hospitality Ireland – 01.01.2020

As the 2019 tourism season comes to a close, the hotel sector is reporting a year of mixed performances, according to the results of the latest industry barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF). The IHF found that just 35% of Irish hoteliers have a positive outlook for 2020 as the uncertainty over Brexit and the high cost of doing business take their toll and overseas visitor growth continues to slow down. The IHF noted that the latest figures from the CSO indicate that there was only a 1.5% increase in overseas visitors to Ireland during the first eleven months of 2019, which was down from a 5.5% increase for the eleven months to the end of November 2018. While 48% of hoteliers reported an increase in business for the year, 44% reported a fall. 48% of hoteliers reported increases in the domestic market and 44% of hoteliers reported increases in the US market.

Fallon & Byrne closes Rathmines branch

Checkout.ie – 07.01.2020

Restaurant, food shop and wine bar group Fallon & Byrne has recently closed its outlet in the Rathmines. Located in the Swan shopping centre, the 10,000 square foot food hall and restaurant was the firm's biggest outlet in the Irish capital. The company recently took to social media to post to confirm the closure of its Swan shopping centre branch. "Unfortunately the location was loss-making and, while the decision was a very difficult one, we believe that acting decisively is what's best for the business overall," read the statement. The company added the closure of the Rathmines outlet would not affect its stores in Exchequer Street in Dublin city centre and Dún Laoghaire.


Contract Catering & Casual Dining Sector

Fitzers Catering records increase in pre-tax profits

Hospitality Ireland – 19.12.2019

Pre-tax profits increased 50% to €624,338 at Fitzers Catering last year after being boosted by the provision of catering services to the papal mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Other key events handled by the company's outdoor division last year included the Ireland v All Black rugby international, a 4th of July party at the residence of the US ambassador and test cricket matches against Pakistan and India in the Dublin suburb of Malahide. New accounts for Fitzers Catering Ltd show that the company's overall revenues declined marginally from €13.37 million to €13.28 million last year, while staff costs came to €5.8 million and accumulated profits amounted to €3.1 million at the end of last year, as reported by The Irish Times.

Bakers + Baristas plans to open 16 new outlets across Ireland and the UK

Hospitality Ireland – 07.01.2020

Coffee shop chain Bakers + Baristas is planning to open 16 new outlets across Ireland and the UK by 2021. At present, the chain operates 64 outlets. According to newly-filed accounts, the chain's revenues rose 1.7% to €17.1 million in 2018. As reported by The Sunday Times, the directors' report that was attached to the accounts stated that Dublin-based private equity firm Causeway Capital and alternative lender Elm Corporate Credit, which fund Bakers + Baristas, have provided funds to help the chain's management team "to grow the business through investment in people, site enhancements and new site openings in Ireland and the UK."