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61% of leaders say their agribusiness are finding it difficult to recruit the right people says report

A comprehensive survey encompassing leaders from 75 food and agribusinesses on the island of Ireland has uncovered a range of challenges impacting these enterprises, including soaring costs, formidable staff recruitment hurdles, and a prevailing trend of price inflation.

These revelations are detailed in the “Food and Agribusiness Report 2023,” recently published by ifac, a specialised services and accounting firm dedicated to serving the agricultural and food sectors.

Among the surveyed leaders, a substantial 61% reported difficulties in securing the right talent for their organizations. Despite this, 55% express intentions to expand their workforce, while nearly half identify venturing into new markets as a primary avenue for business growth.

This year, a staggering 75% of firms reported cost increases, with 35% grappling with short- or medium-term cash flow challenges. Late payments from customers posed problems for 33%, and 38% cited salary hikes as a significant threat to their businesses concerning remuneration.

However, on a positive note, a noteworthy 90% of businesses asserted that they have either maintained or increased their turnover over the past year.

Furthermore, almost 90% of these enterprises are actively engaged in climate change mitigation measures, such as adopting sustainable packaging, investing in solar or renewable energy sources, and implementing waste and by-product management practices.

These findings are based on insights gathered from business leaders during the months of July and August this year.

David Leydon, Head of Food and Agribusiness at ifac, commented on the findings, emphasising the ongoing challenges in the sector. He noted the complexity faced by SMEs, who must contend with various demands and external factors, ranging from recruitment difficulties and rising interest rates to persistent cost escalations and, in some instances, cash flow issues. Despite these challenges, some businesses are successfully maintaining or expanding their revenues.

Leydon underscored the sector’s proactive stance on climate change and highlighted the significance of export opportunities for growth. Notably, nearly half of the surveyed companies view venturing into new markets as a vital pathway to business expansion. He stressed that Irish agribusinesses, traditionally focused on servicing the domestic dairy sector, must broaden their horizons to tap into larger international markets, particularly due to the slower growth seen in Irish dairying compared to previous years.

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