Irish food service market recovery slower than forecast

Prolonged lockdown has resulted in a slower than anticipated recovery for the Irish food service market
Irish food service market recovery slower than forecast

James Cox

Prolonged lockdown has resulted in a slower than anticipated recovery for the Irish food service market, according to a new report launched by Bord Bia today.

The food service market — including restaurants, hotel food and beverage, pubs, office catering and other segments that provide food away from home — will grow by 11 per cent on last year to reach almost €5 billion by the end of 2021, with an additional 56 per cent (€2.8 billion) growth predicted for 2022.

Last year, following eight years of consecutive growth, the food service market fell by 47 per cent (from €8.5 billion to €4.5 billion) and Bord Bia believes it will be the end of 2022 before the majority of the industry could return to close to the pre-pandemic levels of trade.

Previous Bord Bia reporting on the impact of Covid-19 provided preliminary forecasts for the Irish food service industry’s recovery in 2021, but the ongoing restrictions have been more 'longstanding and impactful' than originally estimated.

In response to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on Ireland’s food service industry and the knock-on effect on Irish food and drink producers, today Bord Bia is publishing revised outlooks and a new report charting growth forecasts for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, as the industry moves towards a full reopening from early July onwards.

Key trends

The ‘Outlook on the Irish Foodservice Industry Post-Pandemic’ report, co-authored by global food service research specialists Technomic, has been developed to equip the industry, and Irish food and drink suppliers servicing this market, with up to date data and insights as they plan for the period ahead and includes key trends and recommendations for businesses across the sector.

Speaking today Maureen Gahan, food service specialist, Bord Bia and report co-author, said: “Our end of year Market Insights report published in November 2020 documented the huge hit that the industry had taken as a result of Covid-19. At that stage we estimated that even in a worst case scenario, 2021 would see growth rates of 16%, however we had not anticipated the length nor depth of the lockdown that was to follow. This has resulted in a lowering of the overall expectation for growth in 2021 to 11%, lower than the 'worst case scenario' laid out late last year.

“That being said, food service in Ireland has displayed resilience in the face of the most prolonged shutdown in modern memory. The industry has shown adaptability, perseverance and tenacity to survive, and with the assumption that the worst part of the crisis has passed, will begin to emerge and grow again in 2021 and beyond.

“We are forecasting a strong second half to 2021 as the vaccine roll-out continues at pace, coupled with pent-up demand and consumer savings, and we remain confident on the longer-term viability and resurgence of the industry. As the economy recovers and consumers grow more confident living in the age of Covid-19, this will see a parallel recovery in the Irish foodservice market.”

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