Food

Irish food and drink exports reach record high of €16.7 billion

Petula Martyn

The value of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 22% last year to reach a new record high of €16.7 billion.

Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report shows the significant increase in food and drink exports, up €3 billion since last year and almost 30% on pre-pandemic levels, can be attributed to both increasing unit prices, due to inflation and rising input and operational costs, and an increase in the volume of goods exported.

Value added meat and seafood exports, captured under prepared consumer foods, reached over €1 billion in 2022.

This represented an increase of 30% compared with the previous year, with exports surpassing pre Covid-19 levels by 23%.

Within meat, Bord Bia said this subcategory represents a vitally important outlet for traditionally lower value cuts.

CEO Jim O’Toole said Bord Bia is working very closely with over 55,000 farmers and over 300 companies through its Origin Green programme, to help them address the climate challenge.

The volume of exports for sectors such as Irish beef and dairy increased in 2022.

“I think it’s important to mention the increase here is the increase in value,” Mr O’Toole told business news on Morning Ireland. “For example, the amount of milk collected on Irish farms was the same in 2022 as it was in the previous year, yet we’ve seen an increase of 33% in the value of the exports, so the focus is always about increasing the value of our output and also trying to address how we try and reduce, through the Climate Action Plan, the carbon footprint and the emissions from that sector.”

Mr O’Toole described the lifting of the ban on imports of Irish beef to China as good news, saying it’s an opportunity for the sector to diversify. “My colleagues in Shanghai have been working hard to keep those contacts up over the last two and half years. We have a programme of activity ready to roll, and we’ll be working immediately to try and re-establish our position and develop business in this key important market.”

Asked if it was good news from a climate perspective, he said, “China is the biggest importer of beef in the world so it’s drawing demand from it’s growing population from right around the world. We’re convinced and we’ve evidence to demonstrate that Irish beef is sustainably produced so it is a sustainable option, we believe.”

2022 Export Performance

  • Irish dairy exports were valued at €6.8 billion last year, a year-on-year value increase of 33% or €1.7 billion, driven mainly by Irish butter and cheese.
  • Meat and livestock exports were valued at over €4 billion representing a 15% value increase compared to 2021.
  • Prepared consumer food export values exceeded €3 billion, largely driven by the reopening of foodservice as Covid-19 restrictions lifted.
  • Irish drink exports reached almost €2 billion for the first time, a 25% value increase on pre-pandemic levels.
  • Irish whiskey exports accounted for 60% of the overall value growth last year, with exports valued at almost at €1 billion for the first time.
  • Improved prices helped drive the performance in Irish seafood with export values increasing by 3% to reach €530 million.
  • Exports of Irish horticulture and cereals exceeded €300 million, with mushrooms, largely destined for the UK, accounting for 50%, while cereals exports were valued at €73 million.

The Bord Bia Chief Executive said the industry’s performance during challenging market conditions has been highly commendable.

“In my first Export Performance and Prospects Report as CEO of Bord Bia, I’m delighted to welcome the highest ever value of exports by the Irish food, drink and horticulture sector.

“Following two years of profound disruption, 2022 brought a new range of cost and sourcing challenges, making this year’s export performance even more impressive,” he said, adding that the results are testament to the resilience of one of Ireland’s most important export industries.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, welcomed the sector’s impressive results in the face of significant global challenges.

“I’m proud to announce today’s excellent results which were delivered amid a profoundly challenging year for the sector, most notably the impact of the war in Ukraine, inflationary pressures on producers, and ongoing Covid-19 disruptions to the global supply chain.”

The minister said, against the backdrop of this difficult global trading environment, Ireland has continued to maintain its reputation as a world-class sustainable food producer and supplier, while also successfully securing new business in new markets around the world.

Looking ahead, the Bord Bia CEO said the industry needs to be responsive to a range of oncoming challenges in 2023, as the challenging trading conditions of this year will endure and evolve.

“As 2023 is predicted to be another disruptive year of economic difficulty and challenging supply chains, Bord Bia will continue to be agile and responsive to client and sector needs in what is likely to be a period of ongoing volatility. For Irish food and drink exporters, it will be increasingly important to be aware of how consumers respond to the current cost of living crisis and to position their products accordingly.”

Bord Bia said maintaining a diverse range of markets and channels around the world has been key to the success and continued growth of Ireland’s food and drink exports.

In 2022, more than one-third of Ireland’s total food and drink exports in value terms were destined for international markets, while the EU and UK accounted for 34% and 32% respectively.

The UK remains the largest single country market for Irish food and drink exports, with exports valued at an estimated €5.4 billion in 2022, an increase of 20% on 2021 levels.

Exports to the US increased by almost 40% to more than €2 billion and while China’s Covid restrictions contributed to a decline in exports to China, growth in the value of exports to the Philippines, India, Malaysia and Japan more than offset this decline.

Overall Ireland’s food and drink exports to Asia increased by 9% to €1.5 billion.

Courtesy: rte.ie/news