The importance of the Food and Agri sector to the Irish economy
It is with great interest and enthusiasm that we greet the regular announcements from the IDA on new job announcements from multinational companies setting up in Ireland or increasing their existing workforces.
In the past month, MSD has announced an additional 350 jobs in Dublin, Pilz 70 jobs in Cork and Rockshel Life Sciences, 200 jobs in Tipperary.
In the midst of these announcements, in the pharmaceutical and high-tech sector, we sometimes forget our own indigenous Food and Agri sector.
This includes food and drink, and animal health and hygiene.
According to Food Drink Ireland, this Agri/Food sector has €26 billion in turnover and accounts for half the experts for Irish owned companies. There are a few other interesting statistics associated with this sector:
- Ireland is the largest net exporter of dairy ingredients, beef and lamb in Europe.
- Ireland is the largest exporter in Europe of powered infant formula.
- Ireland exports over 80% its dairy and beef production.
Given the above, it should come as no surprise that Agri/Food businesses deliver 230,00 jobs in this country. According to IBEC, the sector has a high employment multiplier; it supports employment in other sectors of the economy in a manner that other sectors don’t.
Deep links into the wider community and a vast geographical spread
Household names such as Dairygold, Kerry Foods, Glanbia, Kepak and others employ thousands throughout the country. And all are currently in the job creating mode. For instance, Dairygold has invested €95 million in a state of the art plant in Mallow. Glanbia has built a new plant in Waterford/Kilkenny, and Kerry has a magnificent new campus in Naas. In addition, Dairygold has entered into a joint venture with Norway’s major co-op, Tine, to build a new cheese making facility in East Cork.
What makes the Agri sector particularly interesting is the nature of its deep links into the wider community and its vast geographical spread. So, for instance, North Cork Co-op are in Kanturk, Dew Valley Meats are in Thurles, Carbery are in the depths of West Cork and Glanbia spread thought out the south east.
This all means job opportunities in areas outside the main population centres It also means a variety and mix of roles that will be hard to find elsewhere. Roles range from Sales and Marketing to R&D, and standard operations.
As an indication, CareerWise are currently looking for R&D Technologists, Sales Managers, Marketing Executives, Quality Managers, Engineering Managers, Regulatory Managers, and Supply Chain personnel, all within the Agri Sector.
These roles are in companies where the ultimate decision maker is probably in an office down the corridor. Consequently, they present opportunities to be deeply involved in the company’s strategy and major decision making, with chances to input in significant initiatives.
What also should be borne in mind is that by their history and nature, these businesses are spread throughout the country, in many rural areas, thus being deeply imbedded in the rural community. They offer interesting and exciting roles with small, medium size and large employers.
Brian Flynn, Food and Agri