This month marks the first anniversary of Britain's momentous decision to leave the EU. One of the industries most adversely impacted here was the food and drink industry. Ahead of this year's Bloom in the Phoenix Park, the umbrella group for branded food and drink manufacturers - Love Irish Food - carried out a survey of CEOs in the sector on Brexit effects to date and likely future impacts.
Economist Jim Power, Chair of Love Irish Food, said the impact to date for the food industry had been caused by currency moves. "The UK is an incredibly important market. 37% of our food and drinks exports go to the UK. 70% of prepared consumer food exports go there. It accounts for 37% of beverage exports," he stated.
Mr Power said the initial "big bang" impact that saw some low margin food companies, like mushroom farms, closing down had been relatively contained. "Such industries had huge exposure to the UK market. They always were low margin businesses. Any shock would have created a serious impact. That's all we've seen of that sort of catastrophe," he said.
The economist said it was fair to assume that things could get worse. "We've no idea what the net result (of Brexit) will be. We've the UK election next week which complicates the whole thing. Once Britain leaves, the issue is what is the trading relationship we'd have. If a WTO tariff regime exists, there will be further pressures," he explained.
Nonetheless, over half of those surveyed said they expected revenue would stay the same or increase, but 53% said they expected profits would decrease. "They expect that margins will be squeezed, but it's reassuring that the industry feels resilient. For many, cost competitiveness will be a massive imperative," Mr Power concluded.
MORNING BRIEFS - The National Competitiveness Council has warned that pressure on property costs here could have adverse consequences for the entire economy. In its latest "Cost of Doing Business in Ireland" report, the NCC said rising rents and house prices will impact upon wage demands, increase the cost of living and ultimately damage competitiveness. The Council pointed to a range of external developments that reinforce the need to enhance cost competitiveness at home - from Brexit, and its impact on exporters, to rising energy prices.
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*** Mainstream Renewable Power - the energy company founded by former Airtricity CEO, Eddie O'Connor - has signed a $2 billion deal with the renewables arm of energy giant, GE and a local Vietnamese partner to develop and operate an 800 Megawatt wind farm in the Soc Treng province of Vietnam. It will be Vietnam's biggest wind farm when completed and the biggest of its kind in Asia. The deal was signed at the US Commerce Department ahead of a meeting between the US President and the Vietnamese Prime Minister just as Mr Trump prepares to announce his decision on whether or not to pull the US from the Paris Climate Accord.
*** British Airways parent group, IAG, will be hoping to put last week's IT disaster behind it when it launches a new transatlantic budget airline today. The new airline is called Level and the first flight will take off from Barcelona to Los Angeles later today. IAG is also the parent group of Aer Lingus as well as Spanish airlines, Iberia and Vueling.