Bord Bia chief says food firms must now re-think options

June 17th, 2020 5:45 PM

By Emma Connolly

Tara praised the agility of food entrepreneurs.

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WEST Cork’s restaurants are working with Bord Bia to redesign their menus so they can operate profitably with the continued threat of Covid-19.

CEO of Bord Bia and Clonakilty native Tara McCarthy says menus will now have to be designed in such a way that food can be delivered, as easily as they can be consumed on site.

Speaking on this week’s Southern Star Coronovirus podcast, she said food service businesses will have to ask if their dishes can travel and how to make that profitable.

Tara said she had been hugely impressed by the agility of Irish food entrepreneurs, throughout the pandemic.

‘The industry worked so well in partnership, and in extreme conditions. We saw large numbers of companies going digital and looking for online solutions for themselves.’

Overnight they lost farmers’ markets, which for small artisans was a huge hit to their business, she said. But she said retailers in Ireland supported them and quickly gave them supermarket listings, and fast-tracked payments.

Bord Bia is also doing a lot of work beyond Covid, said Tara.

Specifically, they are looking at which behaviours we’ve developed over the past few months will stick as we move forward.

For example, as soon as there’s a vaccine, will people rush back out to restaurants – or will habits like cooking from scratch continue to play a role.

Their findings will influence how food will be promoted and packaged in the future.

She also highlighted how farmers were among the hardest hit throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

‘If I look at dairy farmers, their price has gone back 2c/l in March and 1c/l for April and this is coming at a time when they’re in peak production.

‘We’re thinking and forecasting that our production will be over 8 billion litres for the very first time in Ireland’s history.

‘We’ve had good demand for butter, but there are challenges on anything that you’d expect to find in food service. But if I look forward, there has been some calming in the market.’

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