Speaking at the ANUGA food fair in Cologne, CEO Tara McCarthy outlined Ireland’s plans in preparation for UK’s EU exit. McCarthy said Bord Bia found a huge interest among German consumers around the topics of food sustainability, origin and animal welfare.
“Ireland as a food producing nation was viewed favourably and the image of our food production system is one that is pure, green and natural where animals freely graze on green pastures.
“It is a premium market, our sixth largest, with an estimated value of €600m last year. Sustainably produced food is increasingly sought by German consumers and we are offering our customers a solution to this demand through our Origin Green programme."
The buoyant German market represents another attractive incentive. With its grocery retail market worth €234bn in 2016, market retail analysts IGD expects this to increase to €259bn by 2021, a growth rate of 10.5%.
Irish exports to Germany have an estimated value of €600m for 2016. Export performance to date for 2017 was up 24%, driven by increases in dairy and prepared foods.
Notable increases have also been recorded for sheep meat (+14%), seafood (+26%), pig meat (+19%), edible horticulture (+25%) and beverages (+9%).
What is the Origin Green Programme?
The Origin Green programme is the food board’s sustainability programme that operates on a national scale, involving government, the private sector and food producers.
Members including Danone Nutricia, Glanbia and The Kerry Group have committed to sustainability targets under the Origin Green Charter and have their sustainability plans independently verified by international auditors.
These members, which now account for over 90% of Ireland’s total food and drink exports portfolio, undergo annual progress review to ensure progress is being made.
Private label growth
Private label penetration was also an area ripe with opportunity, according to McCarthy, who wanted 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,” she added.
Around 45% of retail sales in the German market are through private label and this provides a good fit to the board’s European Private Label programme involving 21 Irish companies.
The research funded under the Brexit initiative will now focus on 10 categories to identify private label opportunities for the German market. These categories are yoghurt, frozen value-added chicken, ice cream and frozen desserts, functional meal replacements/super foods, chocolate and frozen pizzas / pies.
Additional research into private label opportunities in Germany and the Netherlands revealed potential for growth through focusing on a particular category or providing solutions to boost retailers' business.
McCarthy revealed that the 45% of private label retail sales remains one of the highest in Europe with extension into niches such as organic, vegan, vegetarian and ready meals a particular growth area.
Irish beef promotion
The board continues to promote Irish beef abroad. Beef exports rose to €142m in 2016, an increase from €92m just four years ago.
The new Brexit initiative aims to capitalise on this by carrying out further promotion from 2018 and beyond that includes using existing material developed for the German market.
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.