Kieran Rumley, Executive Director, Love Irish Food; Emma Walls, Commercial Director, Glenisk and Owen McFeely, Director, PwC Retail & Consumer Practice launching Love Irish Food and PwC’s 2023 SME Food Barometer. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Irish food report: businesses are feeling optimistic

The majority of Irish food companies feel confident about growth despite being threatened by rising input cost and inflationary pressures.

That was one of the findings in the 2023 Love Irish Food and PwC SME Food Barometer which indicated that 95% of Irish food businesses are feeling optimistic about their growth prospects.

Irish food companies are positive about the economy. 74% of respondents are of the view that economic growth will either improve or stay the same. Of these respondents, 33% believe it will improve, up from 24% last year.

The survey signals that Irish food SMEs believe they have strengthened their business models with enhanced measure to control costs. Other top challenges mentioned in the survey are greater economic volatility at 56%, down from 86% last year, and supply chain issues at 51%. Half also said labour shortages are a key threat for future business growth.

Irish food companies are taking action to tackle the challenges head on.

Achieving operational efficiencies (63%) is a number one area for investment in the year ahead for Irish food and drink companies, followed by launching new products and services (51%), building people skills (49%) together with building brand trust (49%).

Rising costs are a top priority but according to the report, respondents are predicting “very low” levels of investment in cybersecurity.

Kieran Rumley, Executive Director, Love Irish Food said: “While Irish food producers are facing major challenges with inflation, supply chain issues, labour retention, and energy costs, there has been a noticeable improvement since last year and it is promising to see the confidence and resilience these businesses are demonstrating in their growth prospects. Pressure remains to recruit and retain staff adding to the cost of labour.”

Owen McFeely, Director, PwC Retail & Consumer Practice, said: “Irish food and drink companies are upbeat about the future and are confident about their organisations’ abilities to innovate and tackle the challenges ahead. Sustainability is clearly a priority – being seen as not just the right thing to do but also delivering real potential for efficiencies in their businesses.”