Majority of food and drink producers feel Ireland is not prepared for Brexit

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Just over three-quarters (76 per cent) of chief executives surveyed by Love Irish Food believe the food and drinks industry in Ireland is inadequately prepared for the impact Brexit may have on the sector in which they operate.

The results of the survey, which gathered the views of Love Irish Food member brand CEOs, were launched at the Love Irish Food Marquee at Bloom’s Food Village in the Phoenix Park.

The survey, which received a 70 per cent response rate, also found that 89 per cent food and drinks business leaders had already felt an impact of Brexit, with 33 per cent noting that impact had been “significant” to date.

Similarly, 60 per cent of the chief executives surveyed believe the expected impact of Brexit will be “significant” over the next 18 months.

In terms of input costs, CEOs noted that currency was the primary immediate concern to impact on profitability for their companies during Brexit, while 64 believe sales development will be a key activity in maintaining their company’s performance.

Meanwhile, in what may be seen as a clear affirmation of the Irish food and drinks industry’s commitment to Europe, 93 per cent of the CEOs surveyed do not believe there will be a so-called “Ire-Exit”.

Lunching the survey, economist and Love Irish Food Chairman, Jim Power, said: "There can be no doubt that Brexit has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the food and drinks industry in Ireland. The food sector is undoubtedly the most exposed sector of the economy to negative Brexit outcomes.”

Love Irish Food’s executive director, Kieran Rumley, said: "Brexit poses a clear and definite risk to the Irish food and drinks sector. As a nation,we need to acknowledge just how important this industry is, not just for the jobs it creates but for the locally made food and drinks it produces. The potential imposition of import tariffs from UK-produced food companies has the opportunity to increase the competitive position for local producers emphasising local market taste needs."

Colin Gordon, CEO of Glanbia Consumer Foods, a Love Irish Food member brand, said: "There is no hiding the risks of Brexit to the food and drinks industry in Ireland, particularly with regard to currency and profitability."

On a positive note, almost half (45 per cent) of CEOs surveyed insist that Britain’s exit from the European Union could create positive opportunities for the food and drinks sector here.