Some 7 in 10 (69%) of Irish food businesses view the availability of skilled workers as a serious concern, according to new research released by The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
The national attitudinal research was carried out by Amárach and involved interviews with over 200 companies across a range of national and international food business SMEs, including importers, wholesalers, manufacturers, producers, operators and retailers.
Brexit is the second greatest future worry for food businesses, with over two thirds (67%) identifying its unknown impact as a business concern. Food businesses are particularly concerned about increases in costs of supplies, tariffs and exchange rates in respect of Brexit on the Irish food industry.
Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI, said: “Our research shows that difficulties in attracting skilled staff and increased regulations and taxes are among the perceived threats that food businesses are citing. At the same time, the final outcome of Brexit is still not yet known almost three years since the referendum took place, and this is also concerning food businesses here.”
The research also showed that from a food regulatory perspective, food allergens and ingredients labelling is the number one concern for Irish food businesses. A majority (73%) were increasingly confident about food safety regulation, believing that Irish produced food is safer now than it was five years ago.
Despite the increased confidence, numerous food safety concerns remain for food businesses. The food industry is apprehensive about allergens and ingredients labelling; food hygiene and handling requirements; and other widely noted food safety concerns including the use of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and additives.
Around one third (31%) of those surveyed do not feel well enough informed in terms of food safety information, despite a high proportion claiming to cover this in-house or via consultants.