Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports reached €13bn for the first time in 2019, according to a report published by Bord Bia.

The results were published in the Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report for 2019/2020 revealed that Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture industry as exports reached €13bn in 2019, up on the €12.1bn recorded in 2018.

This is the highest level of export in Bord Bia’s 25-year history and caps off a decade of growth in which food, drink and horticulture exports have grown by 67%, or the equivalent of €5.6bn, since 2010.

2019 represented a mixed year for Ireland’s meat and livestock industry, recording a 1% decrease in value to €3.9bn. Beef production fell by 3% which was offset by a 1.5% increase in carcass weight, and exports of sheepmeat were down 7% to €294 million. Irish pigmeat export values approached €1bn for the first time with Irish poultry increasing by 5% to €306m.

“For the first time, export levels to Continental Europe exceeded exports to the UK”

The minister for agriculture, food and the marine, Michael Creed said of the report: “2019’s record performance for Irish food and drink exports is testament to the resilience and dedication to sustainability and world class quality amongst our indigenous producers.”

Creed continued: “A diversified approach to increasing our reach within the global marketplace has yielded record levels of growth with a strong performance recorded across most sectors and categories. That said, we face into a global trading environment in 2020 which continues to be marked by volatility and political uncertainty.  My department will continue to work with Bord Bia to support Ireland’s largest indigenous industry as it faces into both the opportunities and challenges of 2020, a year which could be instrumental in defining the next decade for the sector.”

Consistent growth

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, added: “2019 was a watershed year for Ireland’s food and drink industry not only in the total value of exports achieved but also in the make up of their destination. For the first time, export levels to Continental Europe exceeded exports to the UK. This result gives further impetus to the market prioritisation work undertaken by industry, DAFM and Bord Bia over recent years.”

McCarthy continued: “This decade of consistent and significant growth points to the resilience and innovation that underpins Ireland’s largest indigenous sector.  Nearly 48% of that growth (€2.5bn) came from exports to places outside of the EU and demonstrates the importance of continually looking to new horizons in Ireland’s market diversification strategy for our world class food and drink produce.

“This decade has seen almost €3bn more worth of dairy leaving Ireland’s shores while Irish whiskey also saw a significant 370% increase in its global export footprint.”