Population Growth and Food Service Key Opportunities for Local Food and Drink Sector

29th September 2015

From L to R, William Thompson, Head of Agri Northern Ireland, Bank of Ireland UK; John Hood, Director of Food and Tourism, Invest NI; Dr Clive Black, Head of Research, Shore Capital.

Population Growth and Food Service Key Opportunities for Local Food and Drink Sector

Despite the current challenges in agriculture in Northern Ireland,  Delegates at the fourth annual ‘Appetite for Growth’ conference were given an upbeat message about  the opportunities that  may  exist in the future  for the industry  as a result of the fast growing population in Great Britain and the rise in popularity of eating out amongst consumers.  

Dr Clive Black, keynote speaker at the event, advised that capitalising on these trends should form a major part of any business growth strategy over the next few years, with GB’s population set to expand from 64.5 million to around 80 to 90million by 2050, and food service set to continue on an upward trend.  He also advised that a strong currency is good over the long term as it forces companies to look at areas where they can improve, including taking advantage of international sourcing within their supply chains.

The conference, hosted by the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) and supported by Bank Of Ireland UK and Invest NI, brought together a wide range of industry experts to explore topics including research and innovation, emerging trend in the UK retail sector, and developing an export strategy.  Other speakers on the day included Sandra Sullivan from Food and Drink Exportese and Stephane Durand of the Agri-Food Quest Competence Centre at Queen’s University.

Executive Chairman of NIFDA, Michael Bell, said: “The latest trends emerging in the UK retail sector have huge implications for the local industry here.  35% of calories currently consumed in the UK are at restaurants and cafes, and this is set to grow as consumers look to purchase affordable treats, whilst being more selective on pure supermarket expenditure.  The supermarket sector has changed vastly over the last ten years in line with consumer spending habits, and this is forcing food and drink manufacturers and processors to explore future growth areas and to invest more resources in innovation, adding value and export.

“We have great networks of support like NIFDA available in Northern Ireland and we have recently helped 90 small and medium sized business to develop a successful export value added/ provenance strategy through our Access 6 programme.  We look forward to seeing more businesses here capitalising on their growth potential and further expanding our world class food and drink sector.”


For further information contact Greg Fox, Morrow Communications Tel: 028 9039 3837 or email g.fox@morrowcommunications.com.

Notes to the Editor: To gauge delegate response to key issues impacting on their business, Bank of Ireland UK ran a live interactive poll at the event which revealed:

To combat the rise in sterling’s value, 53% of delegates are aiming to squeeze hard on costs in order to say competitive

37% felt businesses should be investing further in research and development in order to add value to their offering

32% believed businesses should pro-actively manage currency risks with their banks.