Gearing up for the GM-free food future
Bord Bia analysts are keeping a watchful eye on the rising demand for GM-free food in the US and main European markets
The rise in demand for non- GMO (genetically modified organisms) products in Germany is not an immediate threat to Irish agri-food exporters, but it is a trend that we need to respond to, Bord Bia analysts say.
At present, Ireland produces no GMO-free products, even though yields of GM-free crops and the launch of GM-free dairy products are becoming more widespread in places like Germany, the US and Scandinavia.
Germany is Ireland's sixth largest market and was worth €600m in exports in 2016.
Speaking at the recent ANUGA food trade fair in Cologne, Bord Bia's German manager Donal Denvir said that the demand for non- GM products is very "real" in the German dairy sector and that meat is not far behind.
"It has arrived in the mainstream in dairy. If you go to Lidl in Germany you can now buy GM-free milk for a very cheap price and it's locally produced. We haven't really seen it at the same level in meat but it exists. So my analysis of that is that trend will continue," he said.
While Irish products have a high reputation in Germany, Mr Denvir added that non- GM products produced in Germany also market themselves in this way and that the Irish food sector has to be ready to face this threat.
"Our position in Germany is already very strong but beef consumption there is around 70pc domestic so the regionality trend is huge in Germany, and that same sentiment of regionality that people are looking for is expressed in non- GM. If Germany can produce it they would be looking at entering that space and building on it," he said.
Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy told the Farming Independent that they are in the middle of tendering out a large study on GM. She said the research will help them determine whether non- GM is a trend that is worth the Irish food industry investing in or whether it is just a consumer fad.