Irish food & drink exports top €12.6bn

NI food supply ‘neglected in Brexit negotiations’, says report
Credit: Antony McAulay

Ireland has enjoyed another record year, after it was revealed its food, drink and horticulture exports reached €12.6 billion for the first time.

The announcement was made by The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed at the launch of Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects 2017-2018 report.

Speaking at the launch, Creed said: “Last year marked the 8th successive year of growth for total Irish agri-food exports, to reach a record of €13.5 billion.

“Bord Bia’s report provides valuable insights into the sectors and markets behind the very welcome 13% increase in the value of food and drinks exports to €12.6 billion.

“Industry, in line with my Department’s market prioritisation strategy, is continuing to diversify, with exports to international markets reaching €4 billion for the first time.

“Trade with the UK, which remains our most valuable market, has grown in overall terms, despite the difficulty presented by Brexit and a weaker sterling.”

According to the report, last year’s export performance was driven by a surge in dairy exports to over €4 billion (+19%), now one third of all food and drink exports, as well as continued buoyant sales of Irish beef, up 5%, which represents a fifth of all exports at almost €2.5 billion.

In addition to the dairy surge, pigmeat, seafood and beef all recorded strong results, with 14, 16 and 5% growth respectively.

At a lower level in absolute terms, live animal exports also registered a big lift in sales for the year, while prepared foods (+17%) and beverages (+8%) also performed well.

Edible horticulture and poultry had the lowest levels of uplift – constrained by price sensitivity and volume.

The UK remains Ireland’s key export market, however the %age share of exports to the UK declined by two points to 35% of total exports. This reduction disguises the fact that sales still increased for the year by 7% to over €4.5 billion.

Exports to other EU countries have risen by 16% to over €4 billion accelerating last year’s growth, mainly driven by strong dairy exports, which rose by over 40% to €1.2 billion, as well as enhanced growth for seafood and pigmeat sales, and a continued strong presence of beverages and prepared foods.

Meanwhile shipments of Irish food and drink to international markets grew by 17 % to exceed €4 billion for the first time. These are driven by strong sales of dairy products in North America, Africa and Asia, and beverages which performed well in North America.