Wed 2nd Jul 2014

 ‘Gastrodiplomacy’ strategy driving growth in food tourism

1st July 2014: Irish food and hospitality businesses experienced a 63% increase in turnover since 2012 with the majority of those businesses (90%) citing the need for increased marketing of food in tourism to sustain this growth in their business. This is the finding of a report on Ireland’s food and hospitality industry, ‘A Foreign Affair – an Ireland abroad experience’ published today.

The annual report, produced by Grant Thornton and Good Food Ireland (GFI), surveys over 600 food and hospitality businesses throughout Ireland. The report highlights that employment figures across member businesses doubled in 2013 compared to 2012, with 6,200 full-time and 3,100 part-time personnel employed. These businesses also contributed 14.5% more to the Irish economy spending €64.5m on Irish produce in 2013.

This, the third annual report, demonstrated strong confidence within the Irish food and hospitality sectors with 81% of all members expecting further profit growth in 2014, with the potential for revenue from visitors to Ireland to play a significant role in driving this growth. It also identifies the need for stakeholders in the food, tourism and other sectors to collaborate even further and work more closely together to promote the best of Irish food experience at home and abroad.

Speaking about the report, Ciara Jackson, Head of Food and Beverages at Grant Thornton said:

“This year’s report clearly shows the strength in sustainable financial growth with a combined turnover across GFI members reaching €638 million last year. This is hugely encouraging for the sector and more than 95% of members expect turnover to increase or remain static in this financial year.  Even more importantly for the indigenous agri-food sector, more than 9 out of 10 GFI members have continued to increase their level of spend on Irish food. To maintain this momentum, GFI members anticipate an increased marketing spend and close promotion of food and tourism would increase revenues for these sectors as well as driving wider economic impact in associated sectors such as transport, recreation and accommodation.”

 Margaret Jeffares, Founder of Good Food Ireland, said:    

“The timing has never been more right for our nation’s two biggest truly indigenous sectors, food and tourism to work together in order to drive further growth for the economy. The idea behind a Gastrodiplomacy strategy1 facilitates a more creative approach for these industries to work together in a unique marketing way both at home and abroad for the benefit of Ireland’s food image. Over the past 3 years of this research we have demonstrated the impact of marketing Ireland as a food tourism destination has had on the sector. The resounding message from GFI members is that local Irish food plays an integral role in Ireland's international reputation but that if all stakeholders of Ireland Inc collaborate even more closely and creatively at an international promotional level, we could drive further growth across the sectors, more efficiently and to the wider economy.”

Some of the reports key findings from a survey of over 600 GFI Approved Providers include:

o   81% expect an increase in earnings (profit) in 2014 (2013:88%)

o   4 out of 5 achieved earnings expectations last year  (2013: 4 out of 5)

o   Turnover of businesses is estimated at €638m for 2013 (up 63% from €390m in 2012)

o   Direct employment within the industry has increased to 9,300 in 2013 (up 58% from 5,900 in 2012)

o   90% feel that local Irish food is an integral economic driver for their business


For further information, please contact:

Maria McGrath, FleishmanHillard, 01-6188420 / 086

Eilish Joyce, FleishmanHillard, 01-6188437 / 087

Margaret Jeffares, Good Food Ireland, 053-9158693/0876674654;

Notes to Editor:

  1. Gastrodiplomacy is a mechanism of building the reputation of a country through its food. It affords people the opportunity to engage with other cultures through food without departing from their own country.

About Good Food Ireland:

Good Food Ireland is the only all island brand standard for Irish food experience. All approved member businesses are passionately committed to using Irish ingredients, showcasing the food of the country. Each is independently inspected to ensure that standards are met and maintained for all members and most especially for its customers. Good Food Ireland is “for everyone who simply loves good food” and amongst its approved members you will experience a whole cross section of places, all with one common theme at the core “good local food”. You will find everything from B&B’s to 5 star hotels to restaurants, pubs, cafes, cookery schools, food shops and food producers. Every type of place a food lover from home or abroad would wish to experience. For more information

About Grant Thornton:

Grant Thornton provides assurance, tax and specialist advice to businesses to help them grow.

Grant Thornton has significant experience in the food and beverage sector from the farm gate through to processing and retail. Our experience means that we can readily identify the critical issues affecting your business and then quickly provide specific solutions. The firm comprises over 600 partners and staff operating from offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Kildare and Limerick. Grant Thornton has produced several thought leadership reports and surveys in the food and beverage sector in the last number of years.


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