Bord Bia reports that €37m worth of Irish food and drink is exported every day.
The value of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 4% to a record €13.5 billion in 2021, despite the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on trading.
Ireland exported the equivalent of almost €37m worth of food and drink every day last year to customers in more than 180 countries worldwide, according to new data from Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report 2021/2022.
“While we understandably focus on the headline figures, it is worth remembering that within those billions and millions are businesses and farms in every county and indeed, almost every parish in the country”
The dairy sector, which was worth more than €5bn last year, remains the largest element within Irish food and drink exports, followed by meat and livestock, which generated over €3.5bn in export sales, and prepared consumer foods, which was worth more than €2.5bn.
Ambitious three-year targets
Bord Bia also published ambitious new three-year targets today to further contribute to the growth in the value-chain of Irish food and drink exports as part of the launch of its new 10-year Statement of Strategy. The plan envisages a significant expansion in the value growth of Irish food and drinks exports during the period, including an 11% increase in the value of dairy, meat, and livestock exports, and a 14% jump in prepared consumer food exports.
“The sector’s ability to beat its 2019 performance and deliver a record year for Irish exports is truly impressive, and Irish food and drink producers and manufacturers deserve huge credit,” said Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.
“While we understandably focus on the headline figures, it is worth remembering that within those billions and millions are businesses and farms in every county and indeed, almost every parish in the country. Businesses that, whether large or small, are run by people who have faced tremendous challenges over the past 20 months, both professional and personal. It is our privilege in Bord Bia to support these wonderful risk-takers, visionaries, and innovators.”
Sustainability central to future of Irish food exports
Sustainability is a core theme within the new strategy, as Bord Bia strengthens its supports and standards to reflect the high level of ambition required to meet both environmental challenges and market demands.
As highlighted in Food Vision 2030, Origin Green has been instrumental in monitoring and driving improvements in environmental sustainability and demonstrating this to trade customers and consumers, both at home and abroad. The challenges ahead are significant, but Origin Green provides a strong base from which to position Ireland as a global leader in sustainable food systems.
“Sustainability will continue to be a key focus for Bord Bia both this year and in the years ahead, as we work in partnership with the Irish food, drink, and horticulture industry to meet the Irish Government’s carbon reduction targets and sustainability challenges,” McCarthy said.
“The Government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy outlines the central role that Origin Green will play in supporting Ireland’s food sector in achieving Ireland’s environmental and sustainability goals. We look forward to helping Irish businesses to further embrace sustainability and ensure that Ireland continues to be acknowledged as a leader in sustainable food production.”
The Performance and Prospects 2021/2022 report was launched today by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D. who said that Irish food and drink producers had enjoyed an excellent year.
“Our world-class and globally-renowned food and drink sector continues to be one of the brightest shining lights of our economy,” McConalogue said.
“Given the difficult external factors, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and our nearest trading partner the UK moving outside the EU Customs Union, this really was an outstanding export performance by the food and drink sector, supported by Bord Bia. I pay tribute to our farmers, our fishers, and our food producers, as well as the processing and marketing sectors who drove this incredible performance.
“Our food and drink producers continue to innovate and seek new markets for their products, and it is truly heartening to see such an impressive performance from Ireland’s largest indigenous industry.
“Total agri-food exports, including non-edible products not included in Bord Bia’s report, are estimated by my Department to be worth €15.2bn in 2021, compared to €14.3bn the previous year.
“This vital sector supports jobs in rural and urban communities throughout the country and my Department, along with the excellent team in Bord Bia both at home in Ireland and its overseas offices, will continue to work to support our primary food and drink producers and manufacturers as they face the challenges of the year ahead, and seek to further enhance the value of Irish exports.”
Irish dairy exports performed well in 2021, with the value of exports exceeding €5bn for the third successive year. The combination of strong market returns across the main categories of butter, cheese, and powders, coupled with a diversified market mix underpinned overall exports. Strong demand in North America and Africa countered the dampening effect of softer demand for specialised infant nutrition products in Asia.
Meat and Livestock
The total value of meat and livestock exports increased by 4% to €3.5bn in 2021, which was a strong performance given the challenges of the year. Below the top-line growth, individual sectors experienced differing market trends, with strong demand and higher prices in beef and sheepmeat, and a weaker market for poultry and pigmeat. Meat and livestock exports were up 7% when compared to 2019
The value of primary seafood exports returned to growth last year, increasing by 6% to €485m, albeit with varying trends across the sector. Pelagic exporters experienced a difficult 2021, with a cut to the mackerel quota as a result of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The value of pelagic exports for the year was down 1% to €169m, helped by the strength of Asian markets. Shellfish exports were boosted by the reopening of foodservice channels in Europe and Asia during 2021. The value of shellfish exports increased by 25% to €165 million.
Prepared Consumer Foods
Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF) exports, (which includes consumer ready products, such as ready meals, pizzas, soups, and baked goods), increased by 3% in value terms last year to €2.5bn. This performance reflected sustained strong sales across retail, most notably for the meal solutions category, but also for bread and for value added pigmeat. Foodservice closures due to the pandemic in the first half of the year continued to cause significant declines in the exports of processed cheese, value-added beef, and sweet bakery products.
This category, which comprises a wide range of consumer ready products, is highly dependent on the UK, with just over two-thirds of exports destined for that market.
The value of drinks exports increased by 19% to €1.62bn last, which was a strong recovery after the difficulties of 2020 and returned exports to 2019 levels. That recovery was most robust in Irish whiskey and cream liqueur exports, particularly notably to the US.
Whiskey exports were worth €856m last year – up 25% compared to 2020. The growing trend of premiumisation and the position of Irish whiskey in this segment led to the value of Irish whiskey exports increasing at a stronger pace than volumes.