Readiness Radar Report Stresses Importance Of Sustainability

09 Jul 2021 | 11.00 am

Readiness Radar Report Stresses Importance Of Sustainability

Most Irish food and drink companies consider sustainability an investment, says Bord Bia

09 Jul 2021 | 11.00 am

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The majority of Irish Food & Drink companies view Sustainability as a necessary investment, according to Bord Bia’s 2021 Readiness Radar.

Bord Bia’s recent Readiness Radar report provides valuable 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. Five high-level risks facing the industry were identified: Covid-19, Brexit, Market Diversification, Talent Management and Sustainability.

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.

Sustainability Investment

According to Bord Bia, climate change and achieving sustainable resource consumption is the most significant and the most widely accepted challenge facing the global food and drink industry. “Sustainability is the issue of our time and one that our sector needs to remain on top of,” says Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.

81% of companies said they consider sustainability an investment as opposed to a cost, and necessary in terms of creating a more secure future. While 6 in 10 businesses see staying ahead of sustainability credentials as a risk to their business, few feel totally unprepared for the risk in this space.

Bord Bia stresses the fast-moving nature of sustainability, and how it requires constant focus to maintain a leadership position on a global stage. Currently 3 in 10 of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture enterprises consider themselves to be sustainability leaders, with meat companies claiming to lead the charge.

At a total industry level, Packaging, Reducing Emissions and Responsible Sourcing are the aspects of sustainability most widely prioritized. Social Responsibility, Customer Demands and Consumer Expectations emerged as the top three forces of change in the area of sustainability.

Sustainability credentials are also important from a personnel perspective. Attracting, developing and retaining talent emerged as a ‘top five’ risk in the Readiness Radar report findings, with 3 in 4 businesses considering it to be a risk to future development and growth, and 38% citing it as a critical or very significant risk.

Arguably the most important takeaway from the Readiness Radar is that that the sector almost unanimously agrees (95%) that sustainability will become more important in the next three years.

Sustainability Takeaways

With the introduction of Origin Green and On-Farm Sustainable Assurance Schemes almost a decade ago, Ireland holds an enviable position for having verified measurement and improvement standards all along the supply chain. When asked what Ireland needs to do to maintain this leadership position, the overarching advice from Tara McCarthy and her fellow panelists who joined the virtual launch event was a call for “unity” within the industry.

“We should have one point of view, one golden ambition for our industry, because Ireland’s reputation is fundamentally interlinked with our sustainability ambitions,” McCarthy advised.

According to ABP, within the meat industry a collaborative approach is needed to change the narrative to ensure beef is seen as a part of a nutritious and sustainable diet. “We believe strongly that we need to work with our farmer partners and with our competitors to address some of the issues we face around consistency in measuring emissions. The top priority for us is scope 3 agriculture emissions that affect our whole sector,” said Kevin Cahill, Managing Director, ABP Ireland and Poland.

William Bain from the British Retail Consortium emphasised that a new generation of consumers expect sustainability strategies to be in place and upheld. In order to be a leader in this area, companies have to be doing the absolute right thing, backed up by scientific targets and proof of progress.

Tara McCarthy added: “Irish producers 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. No-one is going to be an island on their own on this one.”

• To download the Readiness Radar report, go to bordbia.ie/industry/readiness-radar

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