The value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 3% last year to exceed €10.8bn for the first time.
Bord Bia’s annual review and outlook, published yesterday, also recorded that 2015 was the industry’s sixth consecutive year of export growth.
It attributed the performance to increased output in key sectors, favourable exchange rate developments and better returns for beef, seafood and beverages.
All of these factors helped to offset what it described as a considerable weakening in global dairy prices.
The competitiveness of Irish exports was boosted by the fact the euro weakened 16% relative to the dollar and 10% against sterling in 2015.
Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said Irish food exports increased by some €355m in a challenging period.
Global food commodity prices declined by about 19%, the Russian market was effectively closed to EU food exports, and consumer sentiment remained sluggish across the eurozone.
“This year will present further opportunities for growth in most sectors notwithstanding challenges from continued global dairy price pressures through the early months of 2016.”
The strongest categories, in terms of export growth, were beverages (€1.2bn, up 10%), beef (€2.4bn, up 6%), and seafood (€560m, up 4%).
Sustained growth in exports of Irish whiskey, up by an estimated 18%, was the most significant driver in the beverages category.
Growth in dairy exports, up 4% to €3.2bn, occurred in the face of an exceptionally adverse trading environment.
Bord Bia said this reflects the strong growth in the volume of specialist nutrition powders, which increased by 25% overall and by 40% to China alone.
Growth was also recorded in sheepmeat (€230m, +5%), poultry (€320m, +3%) and edible horticulture and cereals (€240m, +4%).
Export values fell in three categories — prepared foods (€1.8bn, down 1%), pigmeat (570m, -2%) and live animals (€195m -20%).
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the industry has been a driving force in our economic recovery since 2009, delivering cumulative export growth of 51%.
The US remains the country’s second largest market after the UK, with exports growing 40% to an estimated €755m.
Exports to China grew by 16%.
Bord Bia also announced it is to open new overseas offices in Singapore and Warsaw, and an Insight Centre at its Dublin office, to help companies successfully underpin new marketing and brand initiatives.
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