Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy has predicted 2018 will be a ninth successive year of growth for Irish agri-food exports, writes Stephen Cadogan.
At yesterday’s announcement by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed of another record year for food and drink exports, Ms McCarthy said: “While Brexit remains the great unknown, we still expect 2018 to be another year of growth, albeit at lower levels.
“Our key export categories, dairy and beef, remain stable, with further volume growth anticipated.
“This coupled with the significant opportunities evident in beverages, in particular Irish whiskey, provide further reasoning for the positive outlook.”
According to Bord Bia, the 2017 increase by 13% to a record high of €12.6bn for food and drink exports was driven by a 19% surge in dairy exports to over €4bn.
“Within the dairy sector, the value of Ireland’s butter exports rose by a remarkable 60% this year alone, to reach €879m,” said Ms McCarthy.
Dairy now makes up one third of all food and drink exports. However, pigmeat, seafood and beef trading all recorded strong results, with 14%, 16% and 5% growth, respectively. Live animal exports also registered a big value rise (21%), while prepared foods (up 17%) and beverages (up 8% ) also performed well.
Export increases were lowest for edible horticulture and poultry, constrained by price sensitivity and volume.
After a 5% increase, beef now represents one fifth of all exports.
Sheepmeat exports increased 12%.
Sales to the UK increased in 2017 by 7%, to over €4.5bn. But the UK’s percentage share of Irish agri-food exports declined by two points to 35%, due to exports to other EU countries rising 16%, to over €4bn, and shipments to international markets rising 17%, exceeding €4bn for the first time.
While food, drink and horticulture exports reached €12.6bn, the sales figure increases to €13.5bn when non-edible products such as forestry are included.
“I am pleased that the significant additional resources provided by my department to Bord Bia as a key part of our Brexit response helped to support Irish food and drink companies’ export performance in 2017, as evidenced by these results, and will continue to do so into the future,” said Minister Creed.
Dairy growth to the No 1 position in agri-food exports is on a collision course with falling availability of labour on our farms: page 2