Agriland: Consumers increasingly ‘buying Irish’ food during global pandemic – Love Irish Food

Agriland: Consumers increasingly ‘buying Irish’ food during global pandemic

Stella Meehan

Mar 10, 2021, 10:58am

There is clear evidence that consumers are increasingly buying Irish throughout the global health pandemic brought about by Covid-19, delegates at a key food and drinks industry symposium hosted by Love Irish Food today (Wednesday, March 10) will hear.

The Love Irish Food seminar, which is being streamed live online today, includes keynote addresses from An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, and leading industry experts on the future of Irish produced food and drinks brands.

According to research from Kantar, to be presented during the Love Irish Food conference, 44 of the ‘top 100 selling’ take-home grocery brands in Ireland during 2020 were Irish-produced.

Over the past year during the pandemic, this cohort of 44 brands has grown by 18% to a total of €1.07 billion in combined sales. These Irish brands currently capture 48% of the money spent among the ‘top 100 selling’ take-home grocery brands in Ireland.

Kantar Research

The Kantar research will be presented at the Love Irish Food symposium by David Berry, managing director, Ireland at Kantar. Other industry experts speaking at the event include Joe Manning, commercial director at Tesco Ireland and economist Jim Power.

Kieran Rumley, executive director at Love Irish Food, said: “The contribution of Irish-manufactured food and drink brands to the local and national economies in Ireland is both vital and immense.

Love Irish Food aims to educate Irish consumers so that they recognise Irish brands. Buying more Irish-made products helps Irish businesses survive and protects Irish jobs, which is critical in the current climate in the context of the global health pandemic and will be crucial in driving economic recovery.

Love Irish Food was formed in 2009 with the aim of helping consumers make informed choices about buying Irish manufactured food and drinks.

The aim is to promote the consumption of Irish food and drink and create a realisation that every time a consumer makes a conscious decision to purchase an Irish-manufactured food or drink product, this is supporting vital local employment, local businesses, and sustainability all over Ireland.

Importance Of Domestic Market

While many Irish agri-food companies have a strong export focus, the domestic market is also very important, particularly for smaller companies who lack scale, according to the organisers of the conference.

Smaller companies can build scale in the domestic market, and eventually achieve an export capability. Love Irish Food must play a key role in driving home these messages, but ultimately it is the purchasing decisions of consumers that will matter most, it said.

In the first 11 months of 2020, Ireland imported over €8 billion worth of food and drink products.

Of these imports, the UK accounted for 47% of the total. In the context of Brexit, some of these products from the UK are becoming more difficult to source and more expensive.

Love Irish Food contests that there has to be potential for import substitution – in other words producing locally, what Ireland previously imported.

The group added that the decisions taken by Irish consumers can play a key role in this regard.

“The role of Love Irish Food is to help inform consumers about the impact of such decisions on local communities and local economies. This message has resonated with many people during the Covid-19 crisis, and the objective now is to ensure that post-Covid, consumers will not forget the importance of supporting local producers,” it added.

By doing so, Love Irish Food said that consumers are having a beneficial impact on the local economy and the environment.