Comment: We need a fresh debate on how we can become a real 'food island'
My youngest son is an avid reader and is currently pursuing the well-worn path of reading the cereal boxes every morning, probably more as a delay tactic in getting ready for school than improving his nutritional knowledge.
The other morning as he read through the boxes he proclaimed: 'After Brexit, there will be no breakfasts'. He has a point.
All the cereal boxes in the press (except for the porridge oats which he classifies as more of a punishment than a breakfast) were produced in the UK and, unfortunately it doesn't stop there.
Most of the food that we eat and drink in this country on a daily basis is directly imported from the UK. As well as breakfast cereals, the bulk of the biscuits, frozen food, canned food, confectionery, flour for bread and most other prepared foodstuffs we consume comes across in the ferries every morning.
What really sticks in the craw, however, is the amount of basic produce like vegetables and potatoes that are imported into this country from the UK.
The value of vegetables imported into the country from the UK is equal to the value of the mushrooms exported, at approximately €100m per annum each way. The value of the potatoes imported (€90 million) is almost twice the value of the peat exported (€50 million) to the UK.
There can be plenty of discussion around the validity of these figures, some of this produce may well have originated somewhere else, like bananas or salad potatoes which are moved through the UK, but the figures give an example of our dependence on the UK for basic produce. Indeed in 2016 the total agri food exports from Ireland to the UK totalled €4.8 billion, while the scale of imports of the same produce was €3.7 billion.
So where does that leave us now that the UK are opening discussions to leave the party?