Prepared Consumer Foods

High quality and traceable inputs for the Consumer Foods sector

Ireland has a strong agri-food base, producing high-quality natural products. A grass-based dairy and beef industry means the raw materials for Irish prepared food categories are of the highest quality. Ireland also has a strong reputation in farm-to-fork traceability for Irish agri-food products.

This category includes a wide range of primary products, which have been further processed, including ready-to-eat foods, confectionery and bakery products.

In Ireland, dairy-based fat-filled milk powders are, increasingly, performing well in this category on the back of strong global demand. In 2013, dairy-based fat-filled milk powders accounted for 80% of the export growth in the category, followed by cooked meats, pizza, sauces, bakery and confectionery.

Key sub-sectors

  • Chocolate confectionery – Ireland has long heritage in chocolate manufacturing, for example the first Irish Cadbury plant was built in 1933. The availability of high-quality, grass-fed dairy as a raw material for the manufacture of chocolate products is a natural advantage for Ireland in this category.  Recent decades have seen the development of a number of strong premium chocolate brands from Ireland.  Chocolate confectionery from Ireland is growing strongly following continued market diversification, evident over recent years in the US, Australia and the Middle East.
  • Frozen – The global frozen prepared-food industry is experiencing strong growth at present. Significant growth is expected in emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, stemming from changing consumer landscapes, both in terms of the size of global markets and consumer lifestyles. The UK remains Ireland’s largest market for frozen ready meals, however, the Irish sector has benefited from the emergence of new customers and new markets outside of the UK. Strongest growth was reported in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and, to a lesser extent, the Middle East.
  • Cooked meats – Along with the strength of the Irish meat sector, exports of cooked meats and meat ingredients continue to perform well, and benefit from a strong focus on innovation. Areas of innovation include temperature management; PH controls; hanging methods; and other handling systems that take place in the first 48 hours post mortem; as well as innovations in the area of salt-reduction; flavours; shelf life; packaging; chilling; and, automation.
  • Bakery - bakery products and snacks sales have been helped by a strong focus on NPD to develop products that meet consumer needs in relation to variety and health, including the burgeoning gluten-free market.