The figure forms part of Food: the secret ingredient to Irish tourism and export growth, a Grant Thornton 2012 Business Insight Survey published in conjunction with Good Food Ireland, a non-governmental group set up to promote the food industry.
Good Food Ireland comprises a diverse group of restaurants, pubs, cafés, B&Bs, hotels, cookery schools, food shops, food producers etc. It believes that linking food with tourism can create new market opportunities, driving demand for Irish food domestically and abroad.
The Good Food Ireland standard, which its Approved Providers must meet, is based on the philosophy of prioritising the core indigenous ingredients of Irish cuisine and providing high product quality and service standards.
The survey finds that four out of every five Approved Providers on the island support the view that local Irish food is a strong economic driver for their business.
The Grant Thornton International Business Report provides a global perspective on the food and beverage industry. According to this, 62 per cent of businesses expect revenue to increase over the next year. However only 43 per cent of surveyed businesses expect an increase in earnings.
By comparison, the results in this Business Insight Survey show that two out of every three GFI Approved Providers achieved their earnings expectations while over 80 per cent of them expect an increase in profit in 2012.
Less than five per cent of GFI Approved Providers expect a decrease in revenue this year. Some 29 per cent expect no growth and 66 per cent are estimating an increase in turnover.
“Overall, the outlook for GFI Approved Providers appears to be extremely encouraging and performing ahead of some international indicators,” notes the report.
Almost 90 per cent are of the opinion that marketing food tourism is important for sustaining business growth.
GFI’s 500 Approved Providers spent an estimated €56 million in the last year on food in their business, according to the report. Some 69 per cent of the typical Approved Provider’s total food purchases are spent on Irish produce with “an overwhelming 63 per cent” spending up to 100 per cent on it which means that GFI Approved Providers contribute around €39 million back into the Irish economy each year.
“RTE’s ‘Local Heroes’ campaign states that every €uro is worth 30 per cent more when spent locally because it multiplies as it is re-spent.,” notes the report which adds, “Businesses that are using local produce in their kitchens or carry local products in their stores can and should be marketing this as a competitive advantage and economic driver”.
Increasing consumer-awareness of ‘local food’
According to the report, “Over the last six years the importance of buying local food has become increasingly important to consumers.
In 2005 only 18 per cent of consumers surveyed in the Republic of Ireland said local food was ‘very important’. In 2011 that number almost doubled to 34 per cent of consumers who indicated that buying local food was ‘very important’ and an additional 39 per cent said this was ‘fairly important’”.
GFI’s Managing Director Margaret Jeffares commented, "Given our current economic situation, I cannot stress enough the importance of buying local, eating local and thinking local when it comes to food and tourism."