There can be no doubt it’s been a busy season in our sector, and while we are fighting our #KeepVat9 campaign, we are not denying that we are in a better position now than we were in 2011.
Yet, there are many new factors that have entered the race since 2011, which is making our industry even tougher to survive than before.
While we have had a busy tourist season, our reliance on the North American customer is worrying and we have seen a major drop off in our British tourist solely due to Brexit.
Other major factors that we are facing in the industry are the rising cost of insurance, utility services and food produce. We know our industry is price sensitive and we have a fear factor when these increases occur. One thing we do know is that, should the VAT rate revert to 13.5% once again, the customer will see an immediate and unfavourable hike in menu prices. While it will be an unfortunate occurrence, restaurant owners will have no choice in doing this if they wish to stay in business.
Let’s hope next month’s report will be singing the praises of Pascal as he retains the 9% VAT rate!
We have two projects coming up that I am very proud to be behind with the Restaurants Association of Ireland and they both involve food education for our children.
The first project, Incredible Edibles, is run by Agri Aware and is aimed at educating students about growing fruit and vegetables and food origin. This September Agri Aware recognised the fourth-class students from Saint Patrick’s Primary School in Galway as the 2018 Incredible Edibles first place winners. Almost 1,300 schools across Ireland participated in the programme and I couldn’t be happier to be associated with an initiative that highlights the importance of heathy eating with the future generation.
As I myself have three children in primary school, I know how hard it is to make greens look attractive. However, if we can educate them on the value and the origin of food, let them create their own food story and you never know, we could change lives and get a few future chefs along the way!
The second project is the Apprenticeship Chef programme which garners the attention of transition year students across the country every year. Run by Mark Murphy from IT Tralee, this initiative not only gives students hands-on experience in the kitchen, but also promotes the hospitality industry as a viable career.
I’m certainly looking forward to getting involved as much as I can with these projects in the future.
President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland