UK market access must be priority for food and drink industry

May 10, 2019

Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec group that represents the food and drink sector, says that maintaining full unfettered access to the UK market must be a Brexit priority for Government. Ireland’s annual food and drink exports to the UK are €4.5bn (a 32% increase since 2010). The scale of this trade demonstrates the importance of maintaining our position in the high value, high quality UK market that has a substantial food deficit and not relinquishing the market to global competitors.

At the launch of the group’s latest document today, “Safe, Sustainable and Competitive: Policy priorities of the food and drink sector 2019” (see attached), FDI Director Paul Kelly stated: "While agri-food is most at risk in any Brexit outcome, most particularly in a hard Brexit, the sector must also respond to the challenges of public health, sustainability and competitiveness. A hugely important measure to mitigate these risks is to implement policies to control our cost base while helping companies innovate and improve both productivity and sustainability. With one in eight jobs in the economy linked to agri-food, failure to do this will be damaging to the wider economy and not just the food and drink industry.

Mr. Kelly said there was a compelling case for exceptional state aid support and other mitigation measures to minimise the economic fallout arising from Brexit. 

“Irish food and drink exposure in absolute value terms is similar to other large exporters to the UK (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy). However, in percentage terms we are 4 – 5 times higher at 37% of food and drink exports. Typically, less than 10% of those other member states agri-food exports are to the UK. This highlights the unique circumstances faced by Irish agri-food and the need for exceptional mitigation measures. A further €4bn of exports go to the other EU-26 with most using the UK land-bridge. Protecting our connectivity to Continental EU markets is critical. It is also an important trade route for food ingredients and finished goods travelling from the continent to Ireland.”

“Safe, Sustainable and Competitive: Policy priorities of the food and drink sector 2019” outlines policy priorities for the following:

  • Brexit Response
  • Competitiveness
  • Markets - Export and Domestic
  • Europe - Our Single Market
  • Safety and Sustainability