Food and drink exports over €11bn for first time

Irish agri-food and drink exports exceeded €11bn for the first time in 2016, says the Bord Bia ‘Export Performance and Prospects 2016-17’ report.
Food and drink exports over €11bn for first time

The €11.15bn in exports last year represented a 2% rise on 2015, and marked the seventh successive year of growth of Irish food and drink exports.

Exports have grown by €3.3bn (41%) since 2010. The strongest sectors in 2016 were prepared foods (€1.92bn, +9%), beverages (€1.4bn, +4%) and dairy product and ingredients (€3.38b, +2%).

Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, said: “One notable feature of this achievement is the impact of market diversification in the year in which the UK chose to leave the EU.

"While trade with UK fell by 8%, this was offset by exports to international and emerging markets.”

Bord Bia estimates that sterling’s decline has negatively affected the competitiveness of Irish exports, reducing the value of trade by up to €570m.

However, exports to north America rose €200m to reach €1.1bn last year, China rose 35% to €845m, and the rest of Asia rose 6% to €330m.

Recovery was also seen in continental EU markets (up 3% to €3.53bn) as good economic conditions led to demand in key categories. The euro strengthened by 13% against sterling in 2016, while there was little change in exchange rates with the US dollar.

Bord Bia predicts that export markets will remain challenging in 2017, but highlights also the pickup in global dairy demand and further opportunities for growth in beverages.

In 2016, beverage exports rose 4% to €1.4bn. Whiskey exports jumped by 8% to €505m in 2016 and are predicted to double by 2020.

The strongest performers in 2016 were prepared foods, sheepmeat, beverages, pigmeat and to a lesser extent dairy.

Weaker prices drove down the value of beef and edible horticulture exports, while lower volumes affected seafood exports.

Livestock exports declined in value terms largely due to a significant reduction in live cattle shipments. Poultry exports also declined.

Michael Carey, Bord Bia’s chairman, said: “Despite difficult trading conditions, it is encouraging to see this industry continuing to grow business and extend its global footprint to more than 180 markets around the world.

"Increased export volumes were recorded across a number of key categories, with milk availability over 5% higher during the first 10 months of the year and beef export volumes up 5%.

“The combined impact of higher output in these sectors is estimated to be in the region of €250m,” he said.

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