The Irish foodservice market will grow by 11% on last year to reach almost €5b (£4.3b) by year end, with an additional 56% (€2.8b) growth predicted for 2022, according to a new report by Bord Bia.
Last year, following eight years of consecutive growth, the foodservice market fell by a stark 47% (from €8.5b or £7.3b to €4.5b or £3.9b). Bord Bia believes it will be the end of 2022 before most of the industry could return to close to pre-pandemic levels of trade.
Previous Bord Bia reports on the impact of Covid-19 provided preliminary forecasts for the Irish foodservice industry's recovery in 2021, but the ongoing restrictions have been more longstanding and impactful than originally estimated.
The ‘Outlook on the Irish Foodservice Industry Post-Pandemic' report, co-authored by global foodservice research specialists Technomic, has been developed to equip the industry, and Irish food and drink suppliers, with data and insights, key trends and recommendations.
Maureen Gahan, foodservice specialist, Bord Bia and report co-author, said, "Our report published in November 2020 documented the huge hit that the industry had taken because 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.
"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."
Bord Bia's recommendations in the report for businesses include:
- Taste will continue to be the most important driver for consumers; 'crave-ability' should be a focus for product innovation and menu design
- Continued elevated growth in off-premise — even as dine-in reopens there will be a need for offerings that can easily transition from on-premise to off-premise occasions.
- Need for skilled labour — the skills shortage was a concern pre-Covid-19, but it has now been further exacerbated due to job uncertainty experienced during the pandemic. Labour-saving solutions will continue to be sought-after by foodservice operators.
- Safety — including items that offer a low-touch/contactless experience. Technology developed now will remain, and new products will evolve accordingly.