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How do Irish Businesses feel about Sustainability?

According to Bord Bia's Readiness Radar report

Date: 17/06/2021

Bord Bia’s Readiness Radar report launched on June 9th via a virtual event, provided unique insights and an in depth understanding of the confidence and preparedness of the food, drink and horticulture industry, as it faces key challenges and opportunities ahead.

Sustainability was called out as one of the ‘Top Five’ high-level risks facing the industry, along with Covid-19, Brexit, Market Diversification and Talent Management.  The results were based on qualitative and quantitative research amongst Irish businesses from food, drink and horticulture, representing an estimated 60% of all Irish food and drink exports.

Climate change and achieving sustainable resource consumption is by far and away the most significant and the most widely accepted challenge facing the Global Food and Drink Industry. With the introduction of Origin Green and On-Farm Sustainable Assurance Schemes almost a decade ago, Ireland holds an enviable position amongst our global competitors for having verified measurement and improvement standards all along the supply chain.

Sustainability is the issue of our time and one that our sector needs to remain on top of, in order to maintain our leadership position on a global stage in this space.

Sustainability Statistics

  • 6 in 10 businesses see staying ahead of sustainability credentials a risk to their business. While few feel totally unprepared for the risk in this space, there is clearly more that can be done to mitigate the challenge.
  • 3 in 10 of our Food, Drink & Horticulture businesses consider themselves to be sustainability leaders, with meat companies claiming to lead the charge. This is important to maintain both from a business perspective but also reputationally.
  • Social responsibility, Customer demands and Consumer expectations were called out as the top 3 drivers of the sustainability agenda. While not specifically called out here the sustainability credentials of the industry of course also influence the attractiveness of the industry from a talent perspective. This finding holds serious importance considering that attracting, developing and retaining talent also emerged as a ‘top five’ risk in the report findings, with 73% of businesses considering it to be a risk to future development and growth and 38% citing it as a critical or very significant risk.
  • Only 1 in 8 see sustainability as a cost. The vast majority, 84%, regard it as an investment, and a necessary one, in terms of creating a more secure future.
  • Reducing packaging waste and usage, Reducing emissions and Responsible sourcing emerged as the aspects of sustainability that are most widely prioritised by the industry. However there is a long tail of issues and priorities, from carbon and nutrition through to community support. When we were asked about expected future priorities, carbon becomes more prevalent but packaging still tops the list.
  • The sector almost unanimously agrees (95%) that sustainability will become even more of a priority in the next three years. The mitigation of risk on this issue is challenging us but is one we can continue to address collectively and ambitiously as an industry.

The key takeaway from the presentation of the Readiness Radar report was a call for “unity” within the industry. “We should have one point of view, one golden ambition, for our industry, because…our reputation is fundamentally interlinked with our sustainability ambitions”, says Bord Bia’s CEO Tara McCarthy.

With sustainability set to become even more of a priority in the next three years, the Irish Food, Drink and Horticulture Industry “fundamentally need to be the best in the world if we want to compete, hold a premium and capture the value that our whole strategy surrounds”, McCarthy concludes, “no one is going to be an island on their own on this one”

Download our Summary Readiness Radar Sustainability Insights 2021 here.

To download a full copy of the Readiness Radar report see: