RTTNews - Wednesday, a report by the Food and Drink Industry Ireland said the sector delivered on growth, productivity, and positive trade balance but its competitiveness was damaged by high business cost base and a sterling depreciation.

The food and drink sector showed consistent output growth since the start of the decade, had a high level of productivity compared to the competing industries and also showed a positive trade balance of EUR 3 billion annually. However, rising business costs and the recent depreciation of the sterling had a huge impact on the sector's export potential and also on the investment decisions of the food and drink companies.

Paul Kelly, Director of the Food and Drink Industry highlighted the need for government action to sustain the country's largest and most dynamic industry. Firstly, the government must act to reduce energy costs in line with and ultimately to below EU average values, the Director said.

Secondly, the government was to set aside state aid rules and provide grant aid to assist companies put in place productivity enhancing measures with EU approval, Kelly pointed out.

Thirdly, the government was to introduce a workable export credit scheme with a state-backed guarantee. Moreover, the sector also wanted to be protected from unfair commercial practices by food suppliers, Kelly added.

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