Policy must underpin Irish export growth in 2012

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Government

Policy is needed to underpin export growth in Ireland
Policy is needed to underpin export growth in Ireland
Growth opportunities in Ireland’s food and drink export market will continue amid volatile domestic conditions, but government policies need to align with and underpin industry growth strategies, according to Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII).

The FDII released its growth strategy report Hungry to Grow​ today which outlined priorities for the food and beverage industry in 2012, noting that it should build on the growth achieved in the export market over recent years.

The report also detailed key policy recommendations and focuses needed to underpin successful growth.

Paul Kelly, director of FDII, said that there is a “very good export growth outlook in the short and mid-term”​ and the report has been compiled to ensure further strong, coordinated, strategic growth.

“Policies across government need to align with the growth strategies of the food and drinks industry,”​ Kelly told FoodNavigator.com.

“Currently, there are a number of proposals that would be at odds with that,"​ he added.

Policy recommendations

The new FDII report suggested the government avoid proposed discriminatory taxes on food and packaging as they are “regressive by nature”.

“We don’t want sugar tax full stop, as there is a value-added tax already,” ​Kelly said, and we don’t see a need for a packaging tax as industry has already met and exceeded EU targets for environmental packaging.

Manufacturers are already obliged to join the Producer Responsibility Scheme where reduced or recyclable packaging is used and this is sufficient, he added, and so “an unambiguous and unwavering commitment from government that it will not apply discriminatory taxes to food packaging” ​is needed.

Growing on growth

Ensuring growth requires the leadership of export companies as well as a public policy framework that supports growth, Kelly said.

Focus will need to be on increased raw material supplies, improved cost competitiveness, innovation, increased capacity utilisation and expansion, improved marketing and market, he said.

Despite good export figures for 2011, “success should not be taken for granted,” ​he added.

The report noted that “policy alignment and joined-up thinking is critical”​ and that policies should align with the FDII’s Food Harvest 2020 strategy that has a target of a 42% surge in the export market to €12bn by 2020.

Ireland’s food board, Bord Bia, pegged food and drink exports for 2011 at €8.85bn indicating a 12% surge in the sector, driven by balance in supply and demand and reduced volatility in the European market.

Data showed that the strongest categories driving growth were dairy (€2.6bn), meat (€2.59bn), prepared foods (€1.5bn) and seafood (€420m).

“The industry is very dynamic and is looking for exports across the globe... The success in the export market is, and will continue to be, underpinned by quality and traceability,”​ Kelly said.

Related topics: Market Trends

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