'No evidence' of UK stockpiling Irish food but Bord Bia warns of possible tariffs of up to 53pc

Cheddar cheese producers want to retain and grow their UK markets
Cheddar cheese producers want to retain and grow their UK markets
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

There is no evidence the UK is stockpiling Irish food in preparation for the possibility of a hard Brexit, Bord Bia has said.

Padraig Brennan, Director of Markets with Bord Bia, told an Oireachtas Committee there is no suggestion of any significant level of stockpiling (of food) in the UK. "We would not expect a major level of it in the next while."

However, he said there are some companies inserting break out clauses into contracts over the past few months. "There is a realisation that there could be a potential need to review contracts."

But Irish food exports, he said, are facing significant tariffs of up to 53pc in there is a hard Brexit.

The World Trade Organisation tariffs, which would be imposed in the event of a hard Brexit, could see Irish beef exports hit with tariff rates of 12.8pc tariff and a €3,000/tonne duty. Over 50pc of Irish cheddar cheese currently goes to the UK and it faces a €1,700/tonne duty, while lamb exports face a 12.8pc tariff plus a €1,700/tonne duty in the case of a hard Brexit. 

"They would have a serious and significant impact on supplying the UK," he said.

He also said 73pc of Irish companies have made changes to their operations as they face Brexit, with 85pc looking to expand into new markets.

Short shelf life products, he said, along with complex supply chain is a key issue for Irish exports heavily dependent on the UK as an export market.

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While he said that Bord Bia is helping companies to identify and target other countries, he admitted that developing new markets can take "a lot of time".

Irish food and drink exports, he said, has to compete with other EU suppliers and has to win on its credentials.

"It does require for us to be really targeted and be stronger with our creditials. We have sold Ireland as clean, green and natural reputation. But we need to quantify those claims and provide more facts and figures to back those claims up.

"Grass fed is one of our key strengths."

Mr Brennan also said that Bord Bia's Brexit workshops are over subscribed at the moment, which he said is a "good indication of how tuned in the emphasis is on getting ready for Brexit".

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