Food and drink exports pass €9bn in value for first time
Meat, drinks and seafood were the main drivers in pushing the value of Irish food and drink exports over €9 billion for the first time last year.
New Bord Bia figures show food and drink exports increased by 2 per cent last year. This was a 28 per cent increase in value on 2009 levels.
Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said it was a good result as it had been a volatile year, with global food prices falling by 8 per cent and putting pressure on export values. “Yet as we take the longer term perspective, the trajectory of food prices is clearly upwards,” he said.
Meat and livestock exports were worth almost €3 billion last year and showed growth running at twice that of total exports. The second biggest category of exports – dairy products and ingredients – fell by 2 per cent to stand at €2.66 billion.
This drop was explained by a fall in prices in the first half of the year and lower milk deliveries because of poor weather.
Prepared foods accounted for almost €1.4 billion in exports, a fall of 2 per cent on 2011. Value-added dairy products, pizza, sauces and bakery and sugar-based confectionery were the strongest performers in this category.
The continuing success of whiskey sales abroad partly explained the 3 per cent increase in beverage exports, which stood at €1.26 billion last year. Cream liqueurs and beer also put in a stable performance. The biggest percentage increase was in the seafood sector, which saw the value of exports increase by 18 per cent. These exports were worth €493 million last year. Improved mushroom exports and strong grain prices boosted the edible horticulture and cereals sector, the value of its exports increasing by 2 per cent to reach €243 million.
Mr Cotter said the weakening of the euro against sterling had been a strong factor in boosting trade to Britain, the biggest market for Irish food and drink. It increased by 5 per cent, to reach €3.8 billion, accounting for 42 per cent of total Irish food and drink exports last year.
In contrast, the value of exports to the rest of the EU fell by 8 per cent, to just under €2.8 million, or 31 per cent of total exports.
However, trade to international markets, excluding Britain and the EU, grew by 8 per cent to more than €2.4 billion. The region now accounts for 27 per cent of total exports with the growth in exports led by Asia, Africa and the US.
“The continued diversification into new and emerging markets, benefiting further from favourable exchange rates, should be welcomed, with exports to Asia up by 75 per cent since 2010,” Mr Cotter said.
He said it was difficult to predict the level of exports this year because of volatility in the global economy but prospects were positive. “However, feed and other input cost developments in the livestock sector will again play a key role in determining farm level performance, following a difficult year for farming due to poor weather conditions and rising costs.”
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said passing the €9 billion export mark was a great achievement and had been secured despite very challenging conditions. “These exports consolidate the growth of the previous two years and demonstrate the importance of a sustainable and dynamic agri-food sector to Ireland’s economic recovery,” he said.
Tasty business: Bord Bia’s vital statistics
Meat and livestock exports accounted for one-third of food and drink exports
There has been a €2 billion increase in food and drink export revenue since 2010
Irish food and drink exports were sold into 175 markets around the world
Some 77 per cent of exporters said they had increased sales on a year-on-year basis
April and May were the only months when food and drink exports did not show any growth compared with 2011
The value of beef exports increased 2 per cent to €1.9 billion, while the value of pigmeat exports rose by 16 per cent to €60 million
The value of sheepmeat exports rose 7 per cent to €205 million,while poultry exports fell slightly to €208 million
The UK accounted for 42 per cent of our food and drink exports
Three out of four exporters expect sales to increase this year
164 companies representing 60 per cent of food and drink exports signed up to Bord Bia’s Origin Green environmental initiative
Source: Bord Bia