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Bord Bia forecasts Irish Foodservice Market to return to pre-pandemic levels by end of 2022

Prolonged lockdown results in slower than anticipated recovery, but Irish Foodservice Market to emerge and grow again in 2021 and beyond

Date: 17/06/2021

According to a new report launched by Bord Bia today, the Irish foodservice market – including restaurants, hotel food and beverage, pubs, office catering and other segments that provide food away from home – will grow by 11% on last year to reach almost €5 billion by year end, with an additional 56% (€2.8 billion) growth predicted for 2022. Last year, following eight years of consecutive growth, the foodservice market fell by a stark 47% (from €8.5 billion to €4.5 billion) and Bord Bia believes it will be the end of 2022 before the majority of the industry could return to close to the pre-pandemic levels of trade.

Previous Bord Bia reporting on the impact of Covid-19 provided preliminary forecasts for the Irish foodservice industry’s recovery in 2021, but the ongoing restrictions have been more longstanding and impactful than originally estimated. In response to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on Ireland’s foodservice industry and the knock-on effect on Irish food and drink producers, today Bord Bia is publishing revised outlooks and a new report charting growth forecasts for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, as the industry moves towards a full reopening from early July onwards. The ‘Outlook on the Irish Foodservice Industry Post-Pandemic’ report, co-authored by global foodservice research specialists Technomic, has been developed to equip the industry, and Irish food and drink suppliers servicing this market, with up to date data and insights as they plan for the period ahead and includes key trends and recommendations for businesses across the sector. 

Speaking today Maureen Gahan, Foodservice Specialist, Bord Bia and report co-author, said, “Our end of year Market Insights report published in November 2020 documented the huge hit that the industry had taken as a result of Covid-19. At that stage we estimated that even in a worst case scenario, 2021 would see growth rates of 16%, however we had not anticipated the length nor depth of the lockdown that was to follow. This has resulted in a lowering of the overall expectation for growth in 2021 to 11%, lower than the “worst case” scenario” laid out late last year.

That being said, foodservice in Ireland has displayed resilience in the face of the most prolonged shutdown in modern memory. The industry has shown adaptability, perseverance and tenacity to survive, and with the assumption that the worst part of the crisis has passed, will begin to emerge and grow again in 2021 and beyond. We are forecasting a strong second half to 2021 as the vaccine roll-out continues at pace, coupled with pent up demand and consumer savings and we remain confident on the longer-term viability and resurgence of the industry. As the economy recovers and consumers grow more confident living in the age of Covid-19, this will see a parallel recovery in the Irish foodservice market.”

In the face of this outlook, the latest Bord Bia report outlines trends and recommendations for businesses as they forward plan and adapt their positioning, products and services including:  

  • Taste will continue to be the most important driver for consumers, and crave-ability should be a focus for product innovation and menu design
  • Continued elevated growth in off-premise — even as dine-in reopens there will be a need for offerings that can easily transition from on-premise to off-premise occasions and provide a great experience.
  • Need for skilled labour — this was a concern pre Covid-19, now further exacerbated due to job uncertainty experienced by many during the pandemic. Labour saving solutions will continue to be sought after by foodservice operators
  • Safety — including items that offer a lower touch/contactless experience will continue to be important. Technology developed now will remain, and new products will evolve accordingly

David Henkes, Senior Principal,Technomic and report co-author believes that Ireland’s foodservice industry, and the Irish food and drink suppliers servicing this market, are facing prolonged and significant changes due to the global pandemic, and many of these shifts will be permanent. “This report highlights the key trends that have been identified and/or accelerated over the past 12-14 months. For example, with the strong demand for off-premise food (including delivery, takeaway and drive-thru), restaurant models are adapting to accommodate what is widely expected to be elevated demand, even as the pandemic ends. Seating areas are being re-thought, with more outdoor space being added. For some quick serve restaurants, dining areas are being reduced in size or eliminated altogether.’

‘Meanwhile, technology has been a key enabler for restaurant and foodservice operator survival and success during the pandemic, and further investment in this space will move forward at an accelerated pace, while the importance of sustainability, particularly in packaging, but also in food waste, local sourcing and other critical areas, is expected to return and accelerate. Many of these changes are here to stay and we would encourage all foodservice operators and suppliers to remain informed, and use these insights to refocus and reboot the foodservice aspect of their business in order to best service their customers as the market reopens.’

Bord Bia will present summary findings from the ‘Outlook on the Irish Foodservice Industry Post-Pandemic’ report via an hour long webinar from 2-3pm today (Thursday, 17th June).  The webinar is open to all, and registration is via the Bord Bia website.

Looking Ahead

Bord Bia offers a range of bespoke supports and services for foodservice operators and the Irish food and drink companies who supply the market. Some of the upcoming activities include a virtual Meet the Buyer event taking place at the end of September and the annual end of year foodservice seminar taking place in early December. A full 2021 Irish Foodservice Market Report will be published in December, with plans to include a section on consumer insights and changing customer behaviors as a result of Covid-19.  

Media contact:

Roz O’Shaughnessy | rosaleen.oshaughnessy@bordbia.ie | 086 – 4054639


Notes to Editor:

Forecasting Methodology:

  • This paper was drafted during May and June 2021 and assumptions are built on an ongoing month-by-month evaluation of the impact of Covid-19 against the baseline 2019 monthly revenue numbers.
  • The modeling accounts for the varying levels of sales from month to month based on broader industry tracking and estimates developed jointly by Bord Bia and Technomic.
  • Inputs represent the “most likely” scenario, but should in all cases be considered a Middle Case. There remains a great deal of potential variability as the situation unfolds.
  • As a result, the forecast for 2021 and 2022 includes and incorporates the historic impact of seasonality and other historical peaks and troughs of sales for each segment.
  • Various historical and forecast inputs are employed in the Irish foodservice model, and are drawn from various sources including primary interviews conducted over the past 30 days, our broader evaluation of restaurant and foodservice data in Ireland, the United Kingdom and other global foodservice markets, Technomic’s 55+ years of industry modeling and forecasting, and other inputs from secondary sources such as consumer and industry research/ publications and other publicly available data.
  • Assumptions for the forecast for each year are national in scope, but we assume that not every area of the Republic and Northern Ireland will have the exact same experience or results.
  • Using all of the above, Bord Bia and Technomic have evaluated the outputs of the model for reasonability and, where necessary, have revised the modeling and weighting of different inputs based on unique macro situations.
  • As the situation progresses and more “actual” information and results become evident for 2021, models will be updated to reflect sales data in each segment. Further revisions and updated forecasts will be published in December 2021.

View White Paper pdf.