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COVID-19: Impact on the food industry in Ireland

We are delighted to present to you the findings of our recent survey into the impact of COVID 19 on the food industry in Ireland. At Grant Thornton we have identified the importance of the food industry to our economy and the role that the industry plays in maintaining employment and prosperity throughout the country. The food industry is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, forming the backbone of many communities across Ireland, and employing 7.1% of the total workforce. The industry has grown steadily over the last decade, culminating in €13 billion of revenue from exports last year. The produce from the Irish food industry is enjoyed in over 180 countries worldwide. 

In May, Grant Thornton’s agri food team conducted a survey into the impact of COVID 19 on the food industry. The survey included participants from across the industry, including dairy, meat, seafood, horticulture, beverage, prepared consumer foods, wholesale/distribution, retail and food service. Consultations were held with a subset of respondents to verify the findings and to seek further context into the challenges facing the industry at this time. The findings from the survey have been analysed and are presented in this report.

The report begins by looking at the impact, both positive and negative, that COVID 19 has had on food businesses. The focus then shifts to analyse what steps industry stakeholders have taken to manage their businesses through COVID 19. The third section of the report examines what the long term impact of this global pandemic could be on Irish food businesses. The report closes by drawing conclusions on the impact and reaction of the industry to COVID 19 and what lessons can be learned from dealing with the crisis.