The Irish food sector has benefited from the weaker euro, the rebound of the Irish economy and growing consumer confidence.
Market performance at a glance
- The export-driven Irish food sector has recorded increasing demand for its products. Businesses are benefiting from the weaker euro exchange rate, mainly against the British pound sterling, which is a main reason why profit margins have increased and are expected to continue to rise in the coming months, especially in the meat subsector. Domestically, the sector benefits from the rebound of the Irish economy and growing consumer confidence.
- For the Irish dairy subsector the recent abolition of EU milk quotas and sharply decreasing milk prices have led to a short-term decrease in margins and delays in capital expenditure programmes. However, in the long term the lack of quotas is expected to provide new business opportunities for Irish dairy businesses.
- The sector still suffers from the lack of capital expenditure during the years of recession. While banks still don’t provide sufficient loans to the food sector, the situation is improving.
- Payment behaviour in this sector has been very good over the past 12 months. The number of protracted payments, non-payments and insolvency cases is very low, and is expected to remain stable near the current levels in the coming months.
- Due to the generally benign credit risk and good business prospects, our underwriting stance continues to be open for food producers and retailers in general. However, we are a bit more cautious in the fruit and vegetables segment, as there are some businesses with very low margins and exposures exceeding equity.