The results of the sentiment tracker research on the Irish food and agribusiness SME sector, released this week by ifac – the farming, food and agribusiness professional services firm, show as one of its key findings that 82% of Munster food and agribusiness SME’s do not have a clear succession plan in place.

The research also suggests that this is mainly due to lack of thought, business viability and no interest from next generation.

4 in 10 medium sized companies are planning to hire next year, however, 62% of Munster employers are saying it’s somewhat or very difficult to find the right people to run the business.

Another area for concern is the growing costs for food and agribusiness SMEs.

Cost pressure is evident across the industry with 86% of medium sized businesses experiencing increases in business running costs averaging at 5%.

Only 3% of companies saw a decrease in costs.

Speaking on the findings, David Leydon, Head of Food and AgriBusiness at ifac said, “From a longer term planning perspective, clear succession plans are rare with 83% of the food and agribusiness SME’s not having a defined succession plan. However, 40% of businesses are open to selling in the next 5 years which is higher than might be expected in the sector.

“In terms of digital transformation which many companies are going through, broadband, not surprisingly, is still an issue in rural Ireland. Online trading is slow to get going with only 7% of companies doing a significant level of online trading, while social media is an important marketing communication channel for 62% of businesses”.

The research, which was conducted on behalf of ifac by Amárach Research, surveyed 200 food and agribusiness from across the country ranging in size, location, years established and turnover, giving a representative cross-section of the sectors.