Profitable Opportunity in Foodservices Industry
The foodservices market in Ireland is booming, consumption of food and beverages outside of the home and supermarket in 2003 was valued at €5.7billion and with the Christmas rush just around the corner, the foodservices industry is bracing itself for one of its most profitable trading periods. That's the findings from Mintel Ireland's latest Irish Series report 'Foodservices' (November 2004). This is the first time the foodservices industry throughout Ireland has been examined and the report from Mintel also reveals that significant opportunities exist for both local and international food suppliers and catering contractors in what is a rapidly growing industry.
Mintel Ireland, production manager, Alison Surgeoner explains, "The foodservices industry in Ireland, north and south, is a huge market with a current market value of €5.7billion. Many people will be surprised at the size of the market and our report has identified the clear opportunity that exists for local companies especially, to tap into this market. In the UK a few key players hold the majority share of the market. In Ireland the market has not yet reached that point but we have identified that major UK catering contractors such as the Compass Group with their Irish subsidiary Eurest, which operate out of 160 sites across Ireland, are beginning to move into the market which does raise concerns among smaller independent local food suppliers and catering contractors."
Changing Irish demographics, an increase in tourism plus consumer demand for both healthier and more international eating options all look set to push the market forward in 2005. Innovative Irish food suppliers and catering contractors can benefit from this demand for improved food services across Ireland if they can take advantage of current gaps in the market.
Healthier Eating & Lifestyle Options
Mintel Ireland, production manager, Alison Surgeoner, identifies the areas in the foodservices industry with the largest potential for growth. "Weight and health issues have been an increasing concern in both NI and RoI in recent years, as such there is significant opportunity for all foodservice suppliers and contractors to expand their offers to healthier fast and convenience foods. Similarly an opportunity exists to expand the range of organic produce offered throughout the foodservices market. Currently the organic market only accounts for 2% of the present retail market. The foodservice providers who begin to introduce organic produce onto their menus will reap the benefits as this market expands as predicted."
New Product Development
Other opportunities exist, in the growing corporate events market with contract catering, fast food and hotel foodservices all set to take advantage of the renewal of foreign investment and a buoyant Irish economy. The foodservices industry would also benefit from higher levels of NPD- New Product Development. Greater levels of research into consumer product likes and dislikes especially given the increasing interest in ethnic foods and the internationalisation of the Irish palate, will also open up further opportunities.
Changing Lifestyles / Demographics
According to the Mintel Ireland report, these opportunities in the foodservices industry are set against the background of internal and external influence. Changing lifestyle and demographics across Ireland are pushing the foodservices industry forward. The majority of households in NI and RoI are made up of two people, with single person households the second most common group. These smaller households are less likely to cook for themselves and therefore more likely to eat out, whether this is buying lunch from the work canteen or local convenience store, to buying dinner in a local pub, restaurant or availing of fast food services, this coupled with an increase in disposable income in Ireland is also a good sign for the growing market.
Positive Effect of Tourism
Tourism has also had a positive effect on the foodservices industry. Tourists in general spend the majority of their expenditure on food and drink with accommodation in second place. From January to June 2004 visitors to Northern Ireland generated revenue of £106million in the food services sector alone. With increasing numbers of tourists from GB and Europe and American visitor numbers steadily on the increase again since September 2001, the tourist industry looks set to continue to drive growth in the foodservices market.
Effects of RoI Smoking Ban
The long-term effect of the smoking ban in RoI, which came into effect in March 2004, still has to be assessed on the foodservices market. While some reports suggest less people are going into pubs to drink and home drinking has increased, it is believed that pubs and restaurants are now a more attractive dining proposition for families with young children, as they no longer have to worry about the effects of passive smoking.
Irish Brand Values
Branding and labelling of foods and beverages produced here as 'Irish' is another considerable marketing tool for suppliers and foodservice providers, underlying the quality that Irish produce has world wide especially in the meat and dairy fields. Contractor preference for sourcing Irish products comes from consumer demand to support Irish producers and food suppliers. Food suppliers would also benefit if they could increase their product range therefore reducing the number of suppliers contractors have to deal with. A diverse range would mean less product outsourcing from overseas which can only be good for the Irish economy, north and south.
"The foodservices market in Ireland is currently in a very strong position going forward. Driven by consumer demand for a healthier, tastier and more sophisticated eating experience whether this is in the local restaurant or pub, work canteen, or simply picking up their lunch from the local shop, both Irish food suppliers and catering contractors should be positioning themselves to take advantage of these gaps in what is a very profitable market." concludes Alison Surgeoner, production manager, Mintel Ireland.
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