IRELAND, Dublin. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Michael Creed TD, announced that the value of Irish food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 13% in 2017, to reach €12.6 bn for the first time.
According to the Bord Bia report, last year’s export performance was driven by a surge in dairy exports to over € 4 bn (+19%), now one third of all food and drink exports, as well as continued buoyant sales of Irish beef, up 5%, which represents a fifth of all exports at almost € 2.5 bn. Notable growth was also recorded for prepared foods (+17% to € 2.2 bn) and beverages (+8% to € 1.5 bn).
In addition to the dairy surge, pigmeat, seafood and beef all recorded strong results, with 14%, 16% and 5% growth respectively. At a lower level in absolute terms, live animal exports also registered a big lift in sales for the year, while prepared foods (+17%) and beverages (+8%) also performed well. Edible horticulture and poultry had the lowest levels of uplift – constrained by price sensitivity and volume.
The UK remains Ireland’s key export market, however the percentage share of exports to the UK declined by two points to 35% of total exports. This reduction disguises the fact that sales still increased for the year by 7% to over € 4.5 bn.
Exports to other EU countries have risen by 16% to over € 4 bn accelerating last year’s growth, mainly driven by strong dairy exports, which rose by over 40% to € 1.2 bn, as well as enhanced growth for seafood and pigmeat sales, and a continued strong presence of beverages and prepared foods.
Meanwhile shipments of Irish food and drink to international markets grew by 17% to exceed € 4 bn for the first time. These are driven by strong sales of dairy products in North America, Africa and Asia, and beverages which performed well in North America. Dairy accounts for some 45% of all sales to international markets, while beverages represent some 19% of total international exports. Further expansion was recorded in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, while the United States which recorded robust growth levels to exceed € 1 bn for the first time. Elsewhere, exports to China, driven principally by dairy and pigmeat, grew by 5% for the year to € 700 mill.