Speaking at trade show Anuga in Cologne, Bord Bía CEO Tara McCarthy outlined the importance of the region as Irish exporters continue to look outside the traditional UK market.
“Irish food and drink exports to Germany performed impressively in the first half of 2017, with a year-on-year increase of 24%, driven by significant growth in dairy, sheepmeat, horticulture, seafood, prepared foods and beverages,” she said. “It is a premium market, our sixth largest, with an estimated value of €600m last year. Sustainably produced food is sought increasingly by German consumers and we are offering our customers a solution to this demand through our Origin Green programme.
“We are investing further in the market and we have identified a number of initiatives particular to the region to be funded under the recent Brexit allocation from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.”
Beef promotion in Germany
Ireland has already seen a strong 2017 in terms of exports to Germany (up 24% year-on-year), driven by increases in dairy and prepared foods, with significant increases also recorded for sheepmeat (+14%), seafood (+26%) and pigmeat (+19%).
It is currently Ireland’s sixth-largest export market for food and drink, with an estimated export value of €600m for 2016, while the German grocery retail market was worth €234bn in 2016 and is forecast to be worth €259bn by 2021, a growth rate of 10.5%, according to IGD.
Bord Bía’s Brexit response initiatives will be concentrating on promoting beef in the region. Irish beef exports to Germany rose to €142m in 2016 from €92m just four years ago. The new Brexit initiative will include concept and strategy development planning for promotional activity from 2018 and beyond, including existing material developed for the German market.
Lamb has strong growth prospects
The campaign commenced this year with five retail promotions in over 2,000 stores and a series of promotions with leading steak restaurant chains across 50 locations. In addition, Bord Bía is organising trade, consumer, food blogger and journalist visits to Ireland to gain a first-hand experience and understanding of Irish beef. It will include online promotion and advertising, driving traffic to Bord Bía’s new German website. Consumers will be directed to a website where they can engage with Irish farmers on farming methods and Irish beef production. The campaign narrative focusses on the work and lives of real Irish beef farmers.
On the lamb side, Bord Bía has renewed its focus on promoting Irish lamb in Germany, which traditionally has a low consumption per capita in the category but has strong growth potential. It said the success of Irish lamb exports in recent years has been underpinned by promotional work done in the market, including in-store retail promotions, tastings, retailer and foodservice customer trade fair support and brand-building through inward journalist and blogger visits. To consolidate the success in the market further, Bord Bía will be launching a new digital home for Irish lamb in Germany. This launch will coincide with the busy Christmas period, which sees a large increase in lamb consumption in Germany every year.
Bord Bía has also moved to identify opportunities for private-label suppliers in Germany, with frozen value-added chicken one of the earmarked categories.
McCarthy said: “We want to unlock opportunities by matching Irish suppliers to suitable retailer accounts and to enable growth for Irish food and drink companies and those German retailers. The research will deliver an understanding of private label in key retailers and focus on 10 food categories.
“Some 45% of retail sales in the German market are through private label and it continues to grow. This project will build on Bord Bía’s European Private Label programme, involving 21 Irish companies and the successful model previously used to conduct category research across six categories in three markets.”