Exports of Irish food, drinks and horticulture grew to a record €13bn in 2019, capping a decade of extraordinary growth with exports increasing by 67% or €5.5bn, from the 2010 levels.
Exports were up 7% on the 2018 figure, despite an “increasingly complex” trade environment.
When exports of non-edible agri-food sector goods worth €1.5bn are included, total agri-food sector exports in 2019 amounted to €14.5bn.
Dairy exports grew more than 11%, despite a weakening in some of the key commodity prices.
With farmer protests heavily curtailing exports of beef and sheepmeat for a number of weeks, and weakening demand in key markets, there was a 1% decline in the value of meat and livestock exports in 2019, to €3.98bn.
African swine fever’s effect on the global animal protein market led to a record high in Irish pigmeat export value.
Prepared food exports grew 12%.
“It has been a transformative decade of extraordinary growth for Irish food exports,” said Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy, launching the Export Performance & Prospects Report for 2019/2020, yesterday.
She said the UK remains a key destination for Irish food and drinks exports.
However, 2019 was the first year that more exports went to the rest of the EU than to the UK, as global diversification and broad-based growth gathered momentum for exporters.
An Irish Farmers’ Association spokesperson said: “Let’s not forget where this export story starts. Farmers need to see the benefits of this growth. The new 2030 strategy must include targets on farm profitability as well as industry targets.”
Key drivers of export performance included global consumer spending remaining strong; increases demand for proteins globally; Brexit uncertainty curtailing GDP growth and business confidence in the UK; and the weakening euro improving competitiveness for Irish exports internationally.