Irish food and drink exports grew 4% last year to reach a record high of almost €10.5bn, Bord Bia has revealed in its annual performance and prospects report.
Chief executive Aidan Cotter said the fifth consecutive year of export growth represented an expansion of 45%, or €3.2bn, since 2009.
The strongest performing sectors were dairy product and ingredients which exceeded the €3bn mark (+3%), prepared foods (€1.8bn + 8%) and seafood (€540m +8%).
Mr Cotter said renewed growth in international markets was reflected in a 15% increase in trade to stand at €3bn or 29% of total food and drink exports.
“The industry’s drive to broaden export reach to destinations outside of the EU is paying dividends with growth in emerging and international markets now driving export figures, offsetting the limited growth in our established premium EU markets,” he said yesterday.
This shift in market destination was marked by increases in the value of exports to Asia to reach €850m (+45%), as well as significant increases to North America (€740m +18%), the Middle East (€330m +11%), and Africa (€610m +9%).
Within this growth, China recorded a further increase of almost 40% to reach some €520m and is now our second largest market for dairy, compared to 13th in 2008.
While it remains Ireland’s most significant export market, the share of exports destined for the UK eased slightly, though the value showed little change at €4.2bn, or 40% of export share. Stronger export values for beverages, prepared foods, mushrooms and poultry helped offset lower beef and dairy values.
The value of exports to other EU destinations grew by 2% to reach €3.3bn, equating to 31% of total exports reflecting largely static consumer price inflation across the eurozone.
Meanwhile, the value of overall beef exports showed little change at €2.27bn. The volume of beef available for export stood at around 530,000 tonnes, while average prices fell by around 11%.
The report notes that the recently announced re-opening of the US market for Irish beef represents a significant opportunity for the sector.
Ireland’s exports benefited last year from the effects of a weak euro against sterling and the dollar. However, a strengthening euro against the Russian rouble, combined with trade suspensions, had a significant negative impact, with exports to that region falling by an estimated 30% to €170m.
While the abolition of milk quotas in April is expected to lead to an output increase of more than 10%, the weakness of global markets is negatively impacting on price levels.
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