Bord Bia’s work is essential to achieving success in the growth of our food and drinks exports, as well as to the development of new and existing markets. This work has taken on greater importance as we seek to reduce our exposure to the UK market in the light of the UK's decision to leave the European Union. In discharging its responsibilities, Bord Bia works closely with my Department, and this ongoing co-operation has in turn been reflected strongly in the whole-of-Government approach to Brexit.
I have allocated significant additional funding to Bord Bia since the UK referendum in 2016 in the context of managing the response of my Department and its agencies to Brexit. Following an initial allocation of €1.6m in 2016 to allow Bord Bia to directly assist food companies with significant exposure to the UK market, further increases in funding over the last three budgets have brought Bord Bia's total allocation in 2019 to €46.6 million. This represents a 60% increase in funding for marketing and promotion of our food offering since 2014.
The initiatives undertaken by Bord Bia include direct advice to companies through individual consultations and seminars, and the completion of a Market Prioritisation exercise that has identified the best prospects for sustainable growth across individual sectors and is also now informing both Bord Bia's and my own Department's activities for example in relation to Trade Mission destinations.
Bord Bia has also undertaken its largest ever recruitment drive to employ 29 new staff to support the growth of Ireland’s food and drink industry. Most of these positions will be based across continental Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, with some also located in Bord Bia’s Dublin office. Indeed, this expansion mirrors my own Department's plans to expand its presence internationally.