Ireland's market promotion activities are carried out through a government promotion board, the Irish Food Board, and by producer organizations. Government allocations to agricultural export promotion for 1996, including money from EU regional support funds, totaled $21.2 million; producer contributions are estimated at $11.2 million.
In 1994, the government of Ireland created the Irish Food Board - An Bord Bia (ABB), to coordinate export marketing opportunities for Irish agricultural and food products. ABB has assumed the responsibilities of the Irish Meat and Livestock Board (CBF), the overseas promotion and market development functions of the Horticultural Board - An Bord Glas (ABG), the food section of the Irish Trade Board (ABT), and may someday assume the marketing functions of the Fisheries Promotions Board (BIM). Funding for ABB's activities come partly from the Irish government, partly from the EU infra structural support funds, and partly from assessments on Irish producers, particularly livestock producers. The Irish government share of ABB funding will be IRP 7.1 million (US$11.2 million) for the 1996 calendar year. It is estimated that about 80 percent is for export promotion ($9 million). The EU will contribute $11.8 million in 1996 from its regional support funds for the less affluent regions and countries of the EU to help Irish farmers market their products through the ABB.
In addition, funding for ABB is supplemented by producer levies that the merged organizations already receive. With the exception of a roughly estimated $11.2 million in producer contributions for meat and livestock, information on producer funding for export promotion is not available. Individual companies that participate in trade shows with ABB pay a participation fee to cover the costs of larger group exhibits.
ABB proposes to expand Irish food exports by one-third over a five-year period. ABB describes it vision of the food industry in the year 2000 as innovative, consumer-oriented and responsive to rapidly changing consumer demand. Irish food processors are expected to broaden their product ranges, producer more value-added products, and develop partnerships and alliances both in Ireland and in export markets. The quality perception of Irish food is expected to be fully exploited.
ABB's strategy recognizes that the domestic and Northern Irish markets are important to the development of the Irish food industry. ABB used Ireland's biannual food and drink exhibition, IFEX96 as a showcase for Irish-produced food, including northern Irish food. Other important markets for ABB promotions have been the other EU countries. ABB provides market intelligence to food companies; helps them establish links with buyers; helps firms develop quality improvement programs; and conducts promotions with companies. ABB plans to provide financial assistance to companies to cover up to 50 percent of specified marketing improvement initiatives. In addition, the government of Ireland has directed Irish embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide to promote Ireland as a place where good, high quality food is produced.
ABB is experiencing some major trials in the promotion of beef this year due to the continuing public announcements of scientific evidence linking "Mad Cow Disease" to humans. Ireland and other countries are turning to the EU to remunerate their cattle producers for falling prices and to seek new markets for beef.
ABG's primary function is to assist and encourage all aspects of horticulture to increase output and exports. ABG's promotional activities are now conducted by ABB, although ABG continues to conduct export market research. In 1996, ABG received government grants of IRP 1.6 million (U.S.$2.5 million), which was spent on general research and production-related activities such as education and producer workshops, and not directly as export promotion funds.
The Irish Fisheries Board (BIM) is a state agency with responsibility for the overall development of the Irish fishery industry. BIM aims to develop and expand both the domestic and export markets for Irish fish and fish products. BIM does not export directly, but it can be involved with individual exporters from initial contact through final sale. BIM often attends trade shows, mainly in the EU, in conjunction with exporting firms. BIM's overall grant from the government was IRP4.8 million in 1996, of which about IRP300,000 (about $473,000) is tagged for export market development. The export market development funds cover market research as well as trade show participation.
The Irish Dairy Board (IDB), the Cereals Association of Ireland (CAI), and the Irish Forestry Board (IFB) are not included under the ABB. Their funding comes from industry funds and sales. The IDB was converted into a cooperative made up of member Irish dairy cooperatives following Ireland's accession into the then-EC in 1972. In recent years, some of its member cooperatives have opted to export their own products. The IDB now claims to be responsible for the export of about 60 percent of Irish milk production in the various product formats. The IDB is self-funding. In addition to financing its operations based on profits from export sales, the IDB charges its members administration and market development levies based on the members' milk intake. The Irish government does not have any involvement in the setting or collection of these levies, although, as a cooperative involved in exporting, the IDB benefits from a number of tax breaks. Producer contributions to the IDB for promotion totaled $4 million in 1996, although it is difficult to determine what share of the assessments went to export promotion.
IDB uses a number of trade promotional activities worldwide to promote its products, which retail under the "Kerrygold" brand name. These promotions range from trade shows, consumer tasting, and competitions to in-country TV advertising. In addition to being the largest exporter of Irish dairy products, the IDB also owns a number of subsidiary companies in Europe and the United States. The turnover of the group was IRP $1.1 billion (US$1.7 billion) in 1994, down slightly from 1993.
CAI is an association that represents both cereal growers and the grain trade in Ireland. It is self-funding and non-profit. IFB is a semi-state agency established to manage state forests and related commercial activities. It aids lumber exporters with market research.