Bord Bia’s work is critical to the success of the growth of our food and drinks exports. Despite the challenges our industry has faced, Irish agri-food exports have shown great resilience and are estimated at €13.6 billion in total in 2018, including €12.1 billion in food and drink exports, which is 64% higher than comparative figures for 2010.
Bord Bia has played a vital role in that export success by enhancing and promoting our focus on quality, innovation and sustainability. The development of the Origin Green programme, providing proof of the sector’s sustainability credentials, has played an important part. Bord Bia works closely with my Department and is central to our work of growing and developing new and existing markets, based on consumer insights and market prioritisation. International markets outside the EU now account for almost 30% of our total export value. In 2018, I led trade missions to Turkey, US and Canada, to China, to Malaysia and Indonesia.
As an agency, Bord Bia has played a key role in our Brexit response to date, facilitating conversations at the highest levels with UK retail CEOs, and ensuring that our ongoing commitment to the UK market is fully understood. UK remains by far our most valuable market, for very valid reasons – it is our closest geographical market, with strongly integrated supply chains and a hugely valuable grocery market. We have no intention of stepping back from the UK market.
Bord Bia’s Brexit Barometer has been used to identify evolving client priorities and concerns and to further inform Bord Bia’s Brexit programmes and supports. As a result of the many findings from the two exercises it carried out in 2017 and 2018, Bord Bia has provided a series of Brexit support programmes focussed on Supply Chains, Customs Requirements regarding Trade, and, Currency Risk for the industry, alongside a customer engagement plan to communicate to key UK stakeholders the preparedness of Irish food and drinks suppliers.
Since the Brexit vote in 2016, I have allocated significant additional tranches of funding for Bord Bia, as a key part of the Government’s efforts to support the agrifood sector in responding to Brexit uncertainty.
In September 2017, I announced funding of €6.745 million for Bord Bia to undertake a programme of additional activities, based on Brexit Barometer analysis, to support the food and drink sectors in addressing the market challenges relating to Brexit. The funding was additional to the €1.6 million I provided to Bord Bia in Autumn 2016 for grants to assist food companies highly dependent on the UK market and an additional €2 million allocated to Bord Bia as part of their 2017 Grant for increased expenditure on programmes.
In Budget 2019, I provided a further allocation of €5.3 million to Bord Bia, bringing its total grant in aid to €46.6 million for 2019. This compares to a grant of €28.9 million in 2014, and represents a 60% increase in funding for marketing and promotion of our food sector over five years.
Bord Bia also received approval last year to recruit an additional 32 staff, which will bring total staff numbers to 146 in 2019.