Industrial production in State declines 5.5% last year

Three biggest sectors – food, chemical and pharma – least affected by coronavirus pandemic

Basic pharmaceutical products and preparations account for the largest proportion of Irish net sales value. File photograph: iStock

The value of products manufactured and sold by companies based in the Republic of Ireland fell 5.5 per cent last year to €127.2 billion as the impact of the pandemic was felt across industrial production.

But although the 2020 figure was lower than that seen in 2019, they were still 6.7 per cent greater than the 2018 total, which arrived at €119.3 billion, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.

The food, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors accounted for 75 per cent of all production last year.

These three largest sectors had an aggregate net selling value (NSV) of €95.4 billion, while the remaining sectors reported a value of €31.9 billion.


Basic pharmaceutical products and preparations accounted for the largest proportion of NSV in 2020 at 41.7 per cent, which represented a value of €53 billion.

This was followed by food products at 17.3 per cent or €22 billion, with chemicals and chemical products accounting for a 16 per cent share or a total of €20.3 billion.

Annual reductions

The onset of the pandemic during 2020 meant all industrial sectors experienced annual decreases in domestic NSV.

The transport equipment sector had the largest annual decrease, falling 15.9 per cent. This was closely followed by rubber and plastic products, which were down 15.5 per cent, and textiles, down 14.8 per cent.

The sectors that were least impacted by Covid-19 in terms of domestic NSV were the three largest: pharmaceutical products fell down 1.6 per cent, food products were down 4.6 per cent and chemical products dropped 4.7 per cent).

The top 50 industrial enterprises in Ireland represented 76.2 per cent of the overall NSV with a value of €96.9 billion. The CSO said this highlighted how the Irish manufacturing sector is heavily reliant on a very small number of enterprises