Bord Bia response to questions on Ireland's €4.6 billion of food imports
The Irish Farmers Journal asked Bord Bia to respond to questions relating to the fact that Ireland imported €4.6 billion worth of food in 2012.

What is Bord Bia's view of the level of food imports to Ireland?

As stated in the Irish Farmers Journal on February 1st “Ireland is a trading nation” – we export €10 billion worth of Irish food and drink products to some 175 markets around the world each year. The UK remains the largest export destination accounting for 42% of Irish food and drink exports, worth an estimated €4.1 billion in 2013. In turn, Ireland is a key trading partner of the UK and we imported €2.2 billion worth of food in 2012.

As a trading nation, Irish producers’ first priority will always be to maximise their position by selling into markets that provide the highest sustainable returns. Accordingly, the outcome of such an approach is that opportunities on the local or domestic market may sometimes be foregone for more attractive opportunities elsewhere, to be filled instead by low priced imports.

Is it possible to estimate what proportion of food imports are re-processed and exported from Ireland in our annual €10 billion total?

There are no official statistics available to show in exact terms the proportion of imported ingredients that end up in exported products.

Can more be done to encourage consumption of home produced goods?

Bord Bia has a wide range of programmes and initiatives in place to assist companies compete more effectively on the home market, while also undertaking extensive promotions based around the Quality Assurance Scheme. The non-exhaustive list below is an overview of some of Bord Bia’s current and on-going market development and promotional activities:

Promotion and Marketing of the Bord Bia Quality Mark:

Bord Bia undertakes consumer marketing and promotional campaigns in the domestic market to increase purchasing of food carrying the Bord Bia Quality Mark. These activities include generic Quality Mark promotion to increase consumer understanding and species specific campaigns to increase purchasing of pigmeat, lamb, eggs etc carrying the Quality Mark. In 2013, Bord Bia managed and executed ten specific Quality Mark campaigns with a budget of €2 million.

Activities focused on TV and outdoor advertising, sponsorship of TV programmes, PR and online activities. Additional undertakings included a schools education programme, development of consumer information leaflets, retail audits and a significant Quality Mark presence at Bloom.

In terms of impact, a nationally representative survey of adults in November 2013 indicates that 89% of Irish consumers are aware of the Quality Mark - up from 60% in 2004. Of these, over half of Irish adults associate the Quality Mark most strongly with the intended messages of rigid safety controls and/or Irishness and traceability. In addition, 66% say that they would be more likely to buy a food product carrying the Quality Mark – up from 54% in 2006. (Source: Behaviour and Attitudes).

Across retailers, 68% of facings of meat products carry the Mark and all the multiple retailers and discounters use the Quality Mark as a key element in shopper communications. This is up from 64% in 2011. (Source: Bord Bia retail audit – December 2013)

Retailer Programmes

The Bord Bia / Tesco supplier development initiative is a comprehensive eight-month retail programme that equips Irish companies with the necessary skills required to secure and grow sustainable listings with Tesco. This year will mark the third year of the programme, and to date the programme members have delivered over €8 million in retail sales. The programme involves three different levels Local, National and Export to assist small, medium and large sized companies.

Foodservice: Supplier Programme

Bord Bia’s Ireland Market Foodservice Programme assists suppliers in developing the expertise required to deal successfully and build stronger relationships with key foodservice distributors and operators. The programmes have been running since 2010 and this year a further 20 companies will benefit from programme participation. A range of supports are available to participating companies - from market intelligence to customised workshops and access to mentoring with foodservice experts.

To date, the programmes will have assisted 90 Irish companies in achieving significant growth, creating on average €2 million worth of new business per annum for participating companies.

Consumer Research and Insight

Bord Bia’s Consumer Insights and Innovation team are focussed on providing the Irish food, drinks and horticulture industry with an in-depth consumer understanding to enable successful launches of brands and products both at home and abroad. One of the main Bord Bia supports helping Irish brands on the domestic market is foresight4food, where companies can avail of bespoke consumer research and innovation support. In 2013, Bord Bia worked with 50+ companies on individual consumer research through foresight4food.

In terms of research, each year Bord Bia publish a range of original research again providing insights around the consumer in terms of eating attitudes and behaviour and in turn identifying potential opportunities for our client companies.

Our Irishness 2013 study sought to further understand the growing importance of local to consumers. The Consumer Lifestyle Trends programme received a major refresh in 2012, the second since the programme’s inception in 2006. Trends allow companies to be more outward looking, future focused and consumer driven and act as a catalyst for new ideas and innovations. Since 2012 we have completed 40 company workshops on how they can understand and use the Consumer Lifestyle Trends for their products. PERIscope 2013: helps companies to fully understand today’s consumer by exploring consumer eating behaviours, purchasing attitudes and shopping and cooking trends among consumers in the Irish and UK markets, as well as globally. Bord Bia’s Lunchtime Occasion study was completed mid late 2013 – it explored the eating habits around the lunchtime occasion and the various tools and foods that consumers are using to control their budget and ingredients. Finally, we delved further into how such shopper behaviour is changing with our Tomorrow’s Shopper study which looks at how shoppers’ behaviour will continue to change and develop in the future. Technology is one of the key catalysts affecting our shopper behaviour and it will continue to change the way in which we shop.

In addition, sectoral research projects were also undertaken to increase consumer and retail understanding such as the Future of Whiskey, frozen foods and bakery.

Fruit and Vegetables – Promotional Activities

Bord Bia promotes consumption of seasonal local produce through a number of year-round activities including: Bloom, National Strawberry Week, National Potato Day, EU & Industry funded mushroom promotions and campaign websites e.g. Best in Season (incorporating calendar when local seasonal produce is in season), www.potato.ie etc.

Brand Forum

The Brand Forum is Bord Bia’s development programme for branded companies. The objective is to work with Irish food and drink companies to grow their brands with practical workshops, dedicated branding advice and inspiring speakers. The Forum is recognised as a time and place where Irish food and drink brand owners have collaborated by pooling together their individual expertise and ideas and sharing problems. Through quarterly workshops and events, attended by representatives from over 80 branded Irish food and drink companies, members remain informed of the latest research and trends.

Bord Bia also offer a Brand Health Check for member companies, a national online survey across 45 grocery categories. In 2014, Bord Bia will work with 31 companies to provide invaluable information on the health of their brand relative to their competitors.

Marketing Assistance Programme

In the Marketing Assistance Programme, Bord Bia provides financial support to food, drink and horticulture companies, to help them improve their marketing techniques and capabilities. In 2013, 187 companies were approved MAP grants, amounting to a total of €963,000.

Are there State Aid rules that prevent more being done to promote Irish?

The State Aid rules for advertising prohibit mention of origin, except as a subsidiary message to the main message of quality. Therefore all of Bord Bia’s advertising and promotional work must focus on the quality element of our produce as opposed to its ‘Irishness’.

Many of the private and industry funded organisations such as Love Irish Food concentrate their promotional campaigns on the ‘Irish’ message.

What percentage of the food service market is imported in (a) pigmeat (b) chicken?

Bord Bia estimates 60% of pigmeat and some 90% of chicken sold at foodservice level is imported.

Again, it should be noted, Irish producers will maximise their returns by supplying the markets returning the highest prices and in some cases these markets are export markets as opposed to the domestic foodservice market.

Have specific initiatives been undertaken by Bord Bia to help domestic producers target parts of the market where import substitution is possible – e.g. breakfast cereals?

From October to December 2013, Bord Bia’s Food and Beverage Team conducted a comprehensive analysis project to review the Ireland market information, CSO import figures and investigate all potential growth opportunities for Irish suppliers.

In total, fifteen categories were reviewed as part of this study including:

• Chilled foods

• Crisps

• Sugar Confectionery

• Chocolate

• Fish (fresh and frozen)

• Frozen foods

• Grocery – sweet spreads

• Alcohol – whiskey, cream liqueurs, craft beers

• Bakery – cakes and bread

• Infant formula

• Yogurts

Information was gathered in two parts. Firstly desk research, including a review of all existing data on Ireland market size (value/volume) by category, growth rates, branded vs. private label split as well as the CSO data available for that category. In addition, comprehensive store checks were conducted by each Sector Manager to review and analyse each category at shelf level. The stores included in the study were Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Musgraves (SuperValu and Superquinn) and Lidl and Aldi and in the case of alcohol, O’Brien’s off licence was also included. A total of 45 stores were visited as part of this study.

On completion of the desk research and store visits, a comprehensive report has been compiled by the Sector Managers with commentary by category of their findings and an outline of opportunities by category as they see them. This information has been presented internally and will be used by Bord as the foundation for on-going meetings and discussions with client companies in 2014.

This will involve working with the Irish food industry to examine in more detail the potential opportunities that exist and any barriers or challenges that might exist to realizing this potential. The timeline for delivery of this second project phase is by July 2014. In addition, Sector Managers will review all categories by end May 2014 to capture any new or emerging innovations or market changes.

What proportion of the fruit & vegetable market could be filled by Irish grown and sourced products? What is the current level?

Ireland’s fresh produce industry is focused on supplying the fresh market rather than product for processing e.g. freezing which tends to be the lower end of the market and is met by imports.

In 2012 the average share for Irish produce (fresh) in the domestic market was approximately 60%. This estimate is based on volume for the key fruit and vegetable lines that can be grown in Ireland at some specific times of the year (and excludes produce lines that cannot be grown in Ireland e.g. citrus, bananas etc). The average domestic market share would on average be closer to 70% however in 2012 due the poor/wet weather during the growing season yields for a number of key lines were reduced (by up to one third in some cases) where gaps were met by imported product. The key influencing factors that impact on the level of imports include the seasonality of fresh produce and the actual length of the Irish Growing season for different crops and the ability to produce certain crops competitively. While there are opportunities to increase the season/area for a number of key produce lines it has to be on the basis that it can be produced competitively.

Are there specific products currently being imported that Bord Bia is encouraging producers to target?

As outlined above, as part of our planned activities for 2014, it is Bord Bia’s intention to work in conjunction with industry to identify all potential opportunities and / or target specific product ranges.

Fonterra issues profit warning and plans more asset sales
The world’s largest dairy exporter has slashed its profit outlook for 2019 due to drought in Australia and weak demand in Latin America.

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has issued a profit warning for its 2019 financial year, blaming the drought in Australia and a slower recovery in some key sales markets for the drag on earnings.

Announcing third-quarter results this week, Fonterra said it had slashed its earnings forecast for 2019 to 10c to 15c per share – down from the previous forecast of 15c to 25c per share.

Struggling ingredients

The company said its ingredients business in Australia was struggling due to weaker milk supplies caused by a severe drought in Australia this season.

As a result, Fonterra has lowered its profit (EBIT) forecast for its ingredients division to a range of $645m to $725m (€377m to €425m).

The previous profit forecast had ranged from $750m to $850m (€440m to €500m).

Additionally, Fonterra also lowered its profit outlook for its consumer and food service division from a range of $475m to $525m (€280m to €307m) to a lower range of $400m to $430m (€235m to €252m).

Business review

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell said the senior management team in the co-op is continuing a wide-ranging strategic review of Fonterra’s entire business, which is due to be completed later this year.

“We’re on track to share our new strategy in September.

"In the meantime, we’re getting on and making decisions to reduce complexity and simplify our business so we can focus on where we have competitive advantages,” said Hurrell.

The co-op has too much capital tied up in these farms and is reviewing whether to offload them

Fonterra said it is reviewing its China Farms operations, where the co-op operates two wholly-owned farm hubs.

Hurrell said the co-op has too much capital tied up in these farms and is reviewing whether to offload them.

Fonterra’s China Farms comprises almost 35,000 cows set on 10 different farms and produced a cumulative 335m litres of milk last year.

The original aim of the China Farms hubs was to produce one billion litres of milk in China by 2018.

While it made a profit of €600,000 last year, Fonterra’s China Farms racked up losses in excess of €60m in 2015 and 2016, as the co-op struggled to gain a handle on production costs in China.

Brazil

Additionally, Fonterra said it is exploring options around the sale of its DPA Brazil business, which is a joint venture business with Nestlé that distributes chilled dairy products throughout Brazil.

Fonterra said it would decide on whether to sell its stake in the business by the end of 2019.

The co-op also announced that it will close its dairy ingredients plant in Dennington, Australia, resulting in the loss of almost 100 jobs.

Fonterra said the shrinking milk pool in Australia has resulted in excess manufacturing capacity in the Australian dairy industry, which forced the closure of the Dennington facility.

Milk price

Finally, Fonterra also announced that its final milk price for the current 2018/19 milking season was likely to be in the range of $6.30 to $6.40/kg of milk solids (25.4c/litre to 25.8c/litre).

This is at the lower end of the co-op’s last milk price forecast range.

For the 2019/20 milking season, Fonterra chair John Monaghan said the co-op was forecasting it milk price to range between $6.25 to $7.25/kg MS (25.2c/litre to 29.2c/litre).

“This is a realistic opening forecast. We are having to look out more than a year into the future which is difficult, but what the information available is continuing to show us is that demand remains strong across key trading partners and this is reflected in GDT prices,” said Monaghan.

Sterling rout continues amid hard Brexit fears
Pressure mounts on Theresa May to step aside over Brexit negotiations with Labour.

Growing concerns around a hard Brexit saw the pound sterling set a new record of 13 consecutive days where the currency weakened.

Sterling is currently trading at just over £0.88 against the euro. In the last fortnight, the UK currency has weakened by more than 3p against the euro having been trading below £0.85 against the euro in early May.

The political deadlock in London between Labour and the Conservative Party over the Brexit deal has spooked markets and fears are mounting that the UK is once again headed for the hard Brexit cliff edge.

On Wednesday night, the future of UK prime minister Theresa May was hanging in the balance with pressure mounting for her to step aside as prime minister. There is growing unease among May’s cabinet ministers and Tory backbenchers over the new Brexit deal that she is proposing to put to parliament in the coming weeks.

Over a third of Irish agribusinesses uncompetitive
A survey of business leaders across Ireland’s agri-food sector shows that more than a third of agribusinesses feel they are uncompetitive in international markets.

Some 36% of Irish agribusiness leaders feel their business is uncompetitive in the international marketplace, according to the 2019 Irish Farmers Journal/KPMG Agribusiness report.

This is a worrying finding given that Ireland exports €13bn of food and drink a year, with 90% of Ireland’s beef and dairy production destined for export markets. For these companies, red tape and the cost of regulatory compliance is identified by 90% of respondents as the number one reason for being uncompetitive compared to international rivals.