Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Implications of Brexit for Agriculture Sector: Discussion (Resumed)

3:30 pm

Mr. Padraig Brennan:

That tariff on imports will be applied in the worst-case scenario. The WTO system, which I hope none of us will have to contemplate in reality, works the same for imports as exports.

On the question of supply for the local market, we have been doing no more in Ireland than we have been in the UK, in that we have been meeting the major retailers and food service companies. In recent months, we have met five of the retailers in the Irish market and have been working with them. They are trying to map out their existing supply chains and the sources of the various products that they have on their shelves or are selling through their food service outlets. They are then trying to determine the implications of various scenarios for their supply chains. Would they still be able to get those products or are alternatives being produced locally in Ireland that could replace some of them?

Given the current situation, no final decisions have been made, but we are working closely with the various retailers to identify opportunities for Irish suppliers. In some categories, for example, private label food manufacturing can play a significant part in an imported product. There could be further potential for existing suppliers with the likes of ready meals, yoghurts and non-traditional products for the Irish industry, for example, tortilla wraps, dips and other products for which retailers and food service companies have been identified as being quite reliant on the UK.

Scenario planning is under way. We are feeding what we believe are the capabilities of our client companies into those discussions. Something that has come across clearly from all of the meetings is that any supplier into retailers or food service companies must be able to show that it has the right scale to be able to supply them week in and week out and to meet their quality requirements. Those are the red lines that have been outlined to us, but we do not view them as a particular challenge. It is a matter of being able to justify and clarify them for the various retailers and food service companies.

The scenario analysis is being done. Depending on how the situation evolves in the coming months, we will stay closely engaged with companies. Our core focus in the UK and Ireland has been to remain a part of the conversation with these key customers, inform them of the state of preparedness of our client companies and what we are doing to assist same, and feed the relevant insight into the discussions as required and as appropriate.