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Irish exports prove popular in France
20
ISSUE 6 2018
France remains a key export destination for Irish food and drink exports. In 2017, the market grew by 11
per cent in value to 821 million. Finnian O Luasa, French market manager, Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board),
says Ireland's positive image and reputation has supported food businesses to build bonds across the
market. Furthermore, Ireland's sustainability credentials, underpinned by Origin Green, make Ireland an
attractive trade partner for France's environmentally and health-conscious consumers
Meat, dairy and seafood remain the
top three performing export sectors
to France, with meat (mainly beef and
lamb) representing 40 per cent. Finnian
says: "Irish meat holds a high position in
the foodservice sectors where taste and
quality are paramount. Years of work
with media and the Chefs Irish Beef Club
has been crucial in reputation building."
Meanwhile, dairy and seafood each account
for approximately 20 per cent of exports to
the market. Prepared consumer foods and
beverages make up the remaining 20 per
cent. "The sectors showing most dynamic
growth were dairy, up 30 per cent; seafood,
up 15 per cent; and prepared consumer
foods, up 14 per cent. Dairy and seafood
showed the highest growth, which was also
driven by high prices internationally due to
demand. The drinks sector is also doing well
with our dynamic craft beer and premium
alcohol industry."
Close connections
Finnian explains that there has always
been a close cultural proximity between
Ireland and France, which is helpful in
building relationships for export. "In sport,
for example, the good image our sport fans
leave behind when they travel abroad and
the fantastic performance of our rugby
team on St Patrick's Day 2018 create a
good brand image for Ireland, as does
tourism experiences. Although we see more
emphasis on local production, the good
reputation of Ireland helps in the perception
that Irish products are more local than other
imported products."
Disrupting distribution
The distribution landscape within France
is changing rapidly with online and offline
partnerships disrupting the status quo. "New
partnerships impacting the market include
Monoprix-Ocado-Amazon, Carrefour-Google
and, to a lesser extent for France in the
short term, Auchan-Alibaba. Once these
marketplaces are fully functioning, it may
open opportunities for a greater number
of product listings in warehouses with less
constraint for shelf space than instore."
Finnian says that in the mid-to-long term
there should be greater opportunities to
connect with consumers online, providing
a platform for Irish producers to leverage
their positive reputation. "In the short-term,
opportunities continue for high-quality
proteins, seafood and meat, as well as
dairy where demand remains high due to
international demand in general. We also
see high demand for organically certified
products. Sales of organic products in
France have increased by over 20 per cent
per annum in recent years."
Environmental focus
Other trends in the French market echo
broader global trends, including convenience,
snacking, retail delivery services, restaurant
delivery, and healthy eating. However,
Finnian says: "Environmental consciousness
is growing every day as we see more
extreme weather and stronger voices
calling out against plastic waste, CO
2
emissions, animal welfare etc. The rise in
vegan, organic and local consumption is
an obvious witness to this." He says there
is a growing awareness around the topic of
balanced diets. "For example, the French
national health and nutrition plan advises
consumption of five fruit and vegetables
per day, a portion of starch food per meal,
three dairy products per day, and one or two
protein portions of meat, poultry, fish or eggs
per day. Ireland has a strong potential here
especially in providing high-quality proteins
and dairy products to reply to consumer
needs for both high nutritional values, as
well as lower environmental impact."
Finnian says there is a move towards buying
products with environmental credentials,
driven by sustainable issues where the
non-governmental organisations and
environmental voices are quite strong. "It
underlines the importance of our quality and
environmental standards, notably Origin
Green, which becomes more important