Bord Bia hosted the Small Business Open Day in the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise in January this year. The event, which was attended by over 150 small businesses from around the Country, shared vital information on topics such as sustainability in the Food Sector, market trends and Brexit. The event was officially opened by Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle, T.D.

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy gave a presentation which reviewed the challenges and success of the Irish Food and Drink Sector in 2018, a year of global instability in the market. Ireland recorded 45 orange and red weather warnings last year which greatly contributed to the difficulties faced in 2018. The weakness of the sterling challenged Irish competitiveness lowering food prices and trade wars between the US and China produced global market uncertainty. Against this backdrop of instability Ireland’s food and drink exports performed well despite a slight decrease in exports (4%).

Food and drink exports in Ireland have grown by 64% since 2010 and 2018 was a story of further growth, penetration and diversification in international markets. Ireland recorded large growth in China shipping half a billion Euros worth of product in 2018. Beef and dairy grew by 4% and 6% respectively in the UK market and Irish butter broke €1 billion in sales for the first time. Among international markets the Netherlands, Italy and Spain have proven to be key export markets for Ireland. Looking ahead to 2019 Tara McCarthy highlighted how strongly Ireland’s food and drink sector performed in 2018 and warned that 2019 would see more political instability, trade disputes and ambiguity regarding Brexit.

Following the review of Irish export performance by Bord Bia CEO Tara Carthy, talk then turned to market trends, sustainability and the impact of Brexit. Douglas Faughnan of Kantar World Panel was next to present providing a brief but detailed overview of the Irish retail market. Bord Bia’s Grace Binchy explored insights and trends in the future of packaging and recycling. Renowned chef and owner of Foodspace Conor Spacey spoke about recognising your business potential in a crowded market and lively panel discussions on branding and sustainability were followed by Bord Bia’s Karen Tyler who outlined Bord Bia’s supports for small businesses. The evening half of the event culminated with a seminar looking at the findings of the Brexit Barometer presented by Shane Hamill and Jack Hogan.

If you are a small food or drink business that is looking for advice, support training or guidance Bord Bia offers free mentoring and training on a range of topics including dealing with customers and tariffs, supply chain as well as market research reports from across the globe. For more information go to or contact 01 668 5155

A full list of the speaker presentations can be found Here.

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