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4 Insights from the Irish Food & Drink Industry – Readiness Radar 2021 

Mary Morrissey, Senior Manager - Client Engagement

Readiness Radar 2021.PNG

Hearing the voice of the Irish food and drink industry has a pivotal role in informing and shaping how Bord Bia develops plans and programs.  Having an understanding of the key risks faced by the industry to their success or future and level of preparedness to deal with those risks assists us in charting those challenges and opportunities.   To this end Bord Bia surveyed over 110 food and drink companies in April of this year to gauge the mood of the industry and to get that deep understanding of what is concerning them now and for the future.

The importance of knowing and understanding risk, and managing what can be controlled is what differentiates companies. Companies and sectors that put an emphasis on preparing for known risk are of course more likely to weather the inevitable storms.  


Four key insights emerged from the research conducted:


  1. Covid19 and Brexit had the potential to cause real damage to the sector but the level of preparation and mitigation put in by the industry and government lessened that.
  2. There is an optimism and a resilience in the industry and an ambition to continue to seek out new opportunities
  3. Talent is an enabler but also potentially a limiting factor and we must work together as an industry to ensure we have the best possible reputation as an attractive and progressive industry to work in
  4. And of course sustainability will become even more of a priority over the next three years and the mitigation against risk on this issue is challenging us but is one we will continue to address collectively and ambitiously as an industry.


Detailed Findings

Despite a really tough 12 months, almost 78% of companies told us they have a positive outlook for the next 12 months and when you put a 3 year timeframe on that that increases to over 80% at 82% (Bord Bia, 2021). Unsurprisingly, Brexit remains a concern for 9 in 10 Irish food and drink businesses and is the fourth biggest risk of the 13 measured. When it comes to preparedness for the impact of Brexit, most (over 80%) feel they are very well or somewhat well prepared (Bord Bia, 2021). This is a testament to the hard work and resilience of the industry.


Notwithstanding that optimism, the ability to diversify and access new markets for growth is crucial to Irish food and drinks businesses. Market Diversification is a risk factor for 2 in 3 businesses surveyed and current levels of preparedness to deal with this risk is mixed.


Talent is very much on the minds of senior teams in the food and drink industry.  Attracting, developing and retaining talent emerges as a key risk area with 73% of businesses considering access to talent to be a risk to future development and growth, with 38% citing it as a critical or very significant risk (Bord Bia, 2021). The recruitment challenges are most acute for general operatives, but there are gaps across the board.  Building further the reputation of the sector as an attractive place to work in, is an area the industry feel further support is needed.  That is a role Bord Bia has long embraced through the establishment of the Bord Bia Talent Academy and our flagship talent programmes including our Origin Green Ambassadors and Marketing Fellowship. 



We also spoke to the respondents about sustainability in their businesses.  6 in 10 businesses see staying ahead of sustainability credentials a risk to their business.  3 in 10 of our food, drink and horticulture businesses classify themselves as sustainability “leaders” (Bord Bia, 2021). 


When looking at what is driving the sustainability agenda, the three drivers are social responsibility, customer demands and consumer expectations.  The sustainability credentials of the industry of course also influence the attractiveness of the industry from a talent perspective and need to ensure the values of the industry align with the talent pool we seek to attract from.


At a total industry level, the aspects of sustainability that are most widely prioritised and top of mind at present are packaging, responsible sourcing and waste.  However, there is a “long tail” of issues and priorities, from carbon and nutrition through to community support. When we asked about expected future priorities carbon becomes more prevalent, but packaging still topped the list.  The sector almost unanimously agrees that sustainability will become more important in the next 3 years.



The Readiness Radar provides valuable insights into the food and drink industry and will drive Bord Bia planning for future activities and programmes. For our client companies, it allows you to understand how your risks and concerns compare with competitors and to take away the whole industry perspective on the challenges of the future following one of the most challenging years for many.


The full report and recordings form the launch event on the 9th of June can be found here



Bord Bia. (2021). Readiness Radar. Retrieved from https://www.bordbia.ie/industry/readiness-radar/