Amy Bond, Assistant Librarian and Information Specialist, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board
Mintel’s latest overview of the artisan food market in Ireland makes for positive reading for specialty food and drink producers. They predict that there will be a 2.7% increase in the all-Ireland market between 2017 and 2018, with the market being set to reach €764 million. Within ROI growth is expected to be 3.2%, taking the market to €215 million. Uncertainty around the outcomes of Brexit is thought to account for a less favourable market in NI, as it impacts upon consumer confidence.
A greater availability may also be a reason for the more robust market performance in the Republic, as this is where the majority of the 235 specialist food markets on the island are located. These markets are key to driving awareness of artisan foods and forming relationships with producers. However, there is also a consumer desire for these artisan products to be more widely accessible in their usual retailers. 78% of Irish consumers agree that there should be more of these products available in supermarkets.
The most important quality for Irish consumers buying artisan food is freshness, with 66% of ROI consumers and 63% in NI stating this is important when shopping in specialist retailers. The next most important factor is provenance. Being made in Ireland is important to 35% of ROI consumer, and 38% in NI. High food safety standards are also crucial in this sector. Other factors mentioned include locally sourced ingredients and high animal welfare standards.
It is clear that there remains plenty of opportunities for Irish food and drink producers within the artisan food sector, but they must deliver upon the high expectations Irish consumers have of these products in terms of taste and quality, while also communicating their local credentials.
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