Irish companies trading food, drink and horticulture remain optimistic despite the significant challenges presented by COVID-19, Brexit and environmental challenges.
This week Bord Bia released the results of a risk diagnostic tool designed to analyse the key challenges and opportunities facing the Irish food and drinks industry. According to Bord Bia’s Readiness Radar report, based on a survey of 111 Irish businesses from across food, drink and horticulture, the outlook is positive and businesses exporting product are resilient.
The Bord Bia survey shows 45% of businesses surveyed have seen the value of their exports decline since the referendum in 2016
However, the trading environment with the UK and the implications of Brexit remain an issue. Some of the long-term effects of Brexit are only starting to emerge as the UK starts to trade independently with other countries. The Bord Bia survey shows 45% of businesses surveyed have seen the value of their exports decline since the referendum in 2016.
Mushrooms in the dark
Horticulture, and the Irish mushroom industry in particular, has suffered more than most for a number of reasons – peat shortage, labour shortage and a dependency on one market for sales.
The mushroom industry is the largest horticultural sector in Ireland estimated to have a farmgate value of €119m, employing over 3,500 people with most product exported to the UK market.
The IFA also raised the issue of carbon leakage by importing peat from other countries
This week, the IFA highlighted how the ban on peat harvesting threatens the future viability of the Irish mushroom sector. The IFA also raised the issue of carbon leakage by importing peat from other countries. It highlighted the hypocrisy of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action to recommend expansion of the horticulture sector and yet the mushroom industry is under serious pressure on a number of fronts.
Labour shortage is another issue facing the sector.
Teagasc recently conducted an Irish mushroom industry labour survey. One of the main findings of the report is that 1,195 new hires are required on mushroom farms in 2021.
Deforestation pace increases in Brazil
Satellite imagery by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) in Brazil suggests about 430,000 acres of species-rich forests have been logged or burned so far in 2021, according to a new analysis. That’s the equivalent of over 307,000 normal-sized GAA pitches.
Though the exact amount of deforestation varies by source, it seems forest loss has ratcheted up since Bolsonaro took office
The analysis, published earlier this week, comes as Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is negotiating a deal with US officials to funnel what could be billions of dollars into his administration to eliminate illegal deforestation within the decade.
Though the exact amount of deforestation varies by source, it seems forest loss has ratcheted up since Bolsonaro took office. According to Ralph Trancoso, a researcher at the University of Queensland: “The size of the average deforestation patch experienced a substantial shift in the last two years in response to the current policies, increasing 61% in comparison to the average for the previous 10 years.”
Last year, amid an economic lull, primary forest loss in Brazil was up 25% compared to 2019, and much higher than any other country.
In other news, Reuters reports that chicken producers in Mato Grosso state contracted to supply BRF Brasil Foods SA decided to stop fattening chicks for the world’s largest poultry exporter unless it paid higher prices to cover rising production costs.
The association of chicken producers, meeting in Lucas do Rio Verde, is seeking a price hike of 10% to 12% in chicken sold to BRF. BRF is one of the largest food processors in the world with over 100,000 employees.