The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and Bord Bia's CEO Tara McCarthy will launch a new Bord Bia Insight Centre in London during their visit to the UK for St. Patrick`s Day events. The visit will also see them engage with the leaders of some of the UK's foremost businesses, key customers of Irish food and drink, to reinforce Ireland's commitment as a supplier and to discuss the progress of these business relationships into the future. This activity underlines the value of the UK for Irish food and drinks exports estimated at over €4.5bn.
The Insight Centre, modelled on Bord Bia`s existing Thinking House in Dublin, will be housed in Bord Bia's London office and will provide Irish food and drink exporters with access to tailored consumer and market insights to strengthen their offering to existing and potential UK customers. It will also provide working facilities for Irish food and drink companies on visits to the UK.
Opening the facility, Minister Creed said: "Insight-led thinking is needed to address the challenges facing Irish exporters and indeed their customers in the UK as Brexit draws closer. This Bord Bia initiative, supported by my Department, will help to align Irish exporters with their customers through a shared understanding of the changes in consumer trends and how to meet them commercially. I am confident that it will contribute to building our position in our most valuable export market."
Ms McCarthy said Bord Bia is looking to further develop commercial relationships with customers through sharing its in-depth knowledge on consumer and market insight with them. "Increasingly food buyers are looking to partner with their suppliers to understand the evolving demands of their customers and how to meet them in a sustainable way. The insight centre will create a platform for Bord Bia and Irish exporters to work with their customers to highlight exactly what the consumer is demanding and how they can supply these needs. This solution driven approach will strengthen relationships as these partnerships look to meet market challenges such as Brexit. Success in a highly competitive, global marketplace, where we seek to compete not on price, but by creating value, can only come from the insights that will enable us to make better informed decisions leading to commercial success."
Over three days, the Minister and Bord Bia's CEO will host top-to-top meetings with CEOs of Sainsbury's, Marks and Spencer, McDonald's, Ocado and Amazon to underline the strategic importance of the Irish food and drink industry as a sustainable partner and supplier to the UK as well as to unlock further commercial opportunities. Bord Bia will update their customers on preparations for the Marketplace International business development event in Dublin next month as well as sharing new developments around Origin Green and consumer and market insight.
Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado, the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailer, welcomed Minister Creed and Ms McCarthy to its fulfilment centre where Bord Bia will look to strengthen its relationship with the retailer. Ocado serves a customer base of 645,000 and achieves almost £1.5bn in annual sales revenue. Online grocery shopping is the fastest growing channel in the UK, worth over £10bn, with mainstream retailers also investing heavily in their online shopping service.
Irish foods are growing more rapidly than the Ocado business average, with the Irish shop currently in its top-five performing international shops. Ocado will send representatives to Bord Bia's Marketplace International in Dublin next month where they will meet new and existing suppliers.
Irish Exports to the UK
The UK remains Ireland's key export market valued at €4.5bn, which was an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year. This was driven by increased demand and strong prices, particularly for beef and dairy. Despite political and economic uncertainty due to Brexit, UK consumer spending on food and drink remains reasonably buoyant as most retailers continue to grow sales, albeit due to price inflation. The UK grocery market is forecast to increase to the value of £213bn by 2022, a 15 per cent increase from 2017 according to IGD.