The value of Irish food and drink exports has approached €10billion for the first time in 2013, according to new figures released by Bord Bia at the launch of this year’s “Performance and Prospects” publication. This represents an increase of 9% on the previous year and 40% in the last four years, with revenues almost €3 billion higher than in 2009. Export values for dairy product and ingredients exceeded €3 billion for the first time and strong performances for meat and livestock (€3.3billion) and prepared foods (€1.65 billion) all contributed to the positive outcome.
The UK remains the largest export destination for Irish food and drink with 42% of exports worth an estimated €4.1 billion reaching that market in 2013. Exports of food and drink to other EU markets increased by 11% in 2013 reaching €3.2 billion with the key markets of Germany, France and the Netherlands all recording double digit growth. Strong exports to Asia, and to a lesser extent Russia, contributed positively toward an increase of 6% in the value of trade to international markets, which exceeded €2.6 billion in the period.
Asian markets are growing rapidly with exports to China in particular up by over 40% in 2013. In the last three years values to China have trebled to reach over €390 million in 2013. It is now Ireland’s sixth largest market overall, driven in particular by strong dairy and pork exports. Seafood and beverage exports are also growing solidly albeit from a lower base, while eventual access to the beef market will act to further broaden the industry’s presence in the world's fastest growing market. The inclusion of hide exports from the beef industry would bring the market’s value overall for the sector to €432 million.
Looking to the year ahead, the market environment for Irish food and drink remains positive for 2014, boosted by the strong growth recorded in 2013. A further rise in output is expected across key sectors and ongoing strong demand is anticipated in emerging economies. Much will depend on developments in more established markets and consumer sentiment will remain a critical driver.