HIF Horticultural Industry Forum Ireland Benefits of Irish Fresh Produce

Economic Potential of the Horticulture Industry

Opportunities exist to increase production to supply the domestic market and develop a significant export trade. Food Wise 2025 has cited both import substitution and the export market as drivers that can increase the output value of the industry to €500m in the medium term

Domestic output and opportunities for import substitution

  • Daily consumption of fruit and vegetables in Ireland has been measured at 192g in 2011, which is less than half the World Health Organisation recommended level of ≥400 g per day
  • Irish grown produce is best positioned to encourage increased levels of daily consumption, improve public health and assist in the battle against obesity
  • There are a number of fresh produce lines where domestic production could be increased to substitute for imports of Onions, Tomatoes, Celery, Brassicas, Apples, Salad Vegetables etc
  • Emerging and new crop lines that can be grown in Ireland such as Pak Choi, Kale, Active Nuts & Seeds, Kohlrabi etc are being sought by consumers
HIF Horticultural Industry Forum Ireland

Export potential

Apart from Mushrooms, which represent around €105m in exports, there is little exporting of fresh produce from any of the other sectors. Given Ireland’s quality food image and easy access to major EU markets, Ireland has opportunity and scope to develop a significant export trade if a coordinated government and industry effort is made.

Some Indicators of Export Potential

  • Netherlands (1/3 size of ROI) exported €2.9bn of Dutch grown fresh produce in 2014
  • The UN expects that 70% more food will be required by 2050. This is more possible through the increase of vegetable and fruit production rather than by meat and dairy
  • Origin Green will provide opportunities for Irish fresh produce to market its environmental and sustainability credentials, and establish a unique selling proposition
  • Ireland’s food quality image with appropriate branding provides a platform to develop a successful export programme to lucrative European markets

Employment potential and benefits to the rural local economy

It has been estimated by Bord Bia that around 10,000 people are employed in the horticulture industry. Many of the jobs are rural based and provide employment where no other alternative exists. A high proportion of the income earned through this employment is spent in the surrounding local economy. Given a favourable trading environment supported by proactive government policy, it is envisaged that many more sustainable jobs can be created

Potential Contribution to Improving Public Health and Well Being

The cost of providing health care across the western world continues to rise. It has been demonstrated that increased consumption of fruit and vegetables improves public health and is central to the fight against obesity. Investing and supporting a thriving horticulture industry in Ireland would provide the Irish people with the best freshest fruit and vegetables to promote healthy eating patterns and combat the threat posed by high sugar diets.

Some Pertinent Points on Health

  • Fruit and Vegetables – “It isn’t tasty OR healthy, it’s tasty AND healthy”
  • Berenschot Groep BV have calculated that;
    > An increase in fruit and vegetable consumption of 156g per person per day would result in a saving of €2.7bn in health care costs in the Holland over the next 20 years
    > If people in the northwest of Europe1 ate their recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables there would be a corresponding need for 3.4bn Kgs of Vegetables and 2.8bn Kgs of Fruit, which would require employment of an additional 120,000 employees and additional €7.2bn worth of fresh produce
  • A new UK report2 highlights an increasingly weak sector there and notes that rather than a growing daily consumption of fruit and vegetables there, daily intake has actually fallen over the past 10 years
  • According to a study published in The Lancet3 Ireland is set to become the most obese country in Europe, with the UK, within a decade. It has been internationally demonstrated that increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables improves health and reduces the incidence of obesity
  • Encouraging a taste for fruit and vegetables at an early age develops a healthier eating pattern later in life
  • Great potential exists for collaboration between the medical sector and the horticulture sector to improve public health
  • Irish grown food is tastier as the crops are picked at their peak of ripeness rather than being harvested early in order to be imported and transported for you to buy in your local shop. Often Irish grown fruit and vegetables have been picked within 24 hours of purchase
  • Irish grown food is more nutritious as it has a shorter time between being harvested and arriving on your plate. Nutrient value is higher when fruit and vegetables are consumed when fresh
  • Irish grown fruit and vegetables support a safe and secure food supply chain

1. Germany, UK, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Finland and the Netherlands

2. British horticulture demands more attention as new report shows increasingly weak sector

3. Ireland’s obesity rate among world’s worst