Food exports to the UK grow despite continued uncertainty

January 14th, 2019 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, and Michael Creed, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, at the launch on Wednesday of Bord Bia's Export Performance and Prospects 2018/2019 report.

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DESPITE a year of unprecedented global volatility, involving political uncertainty, extreme weather events and continuing currency fluctuations impacting competitiveness, the value of Irish food, drink and horticulture exports reached €12.1 billion in 2018, down just 4% from a record high in 2017. 

Launching Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects 2018/2019 report this week, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Michael Creed, said that last year marked the highest ever volume of Irish exports (+2%), representing the ninth consecutive year of volume growth. 

Minister Creed said that, ‘while the possibility of a disorderly Brexit poses an unprecedented strategic challenge, the Irish agri-food sector has repeatedly demonstrated that it is both durable and innovative.’ The UK market remains central to Irish food and drink exports. 

The UK accounted for €4.5bn, an increase of 2% compared to 2017, despite the tail effects of significant currency challenges in 2017 and political uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit. Exports to other EU states exceeded €4bn for the second year running, up 1%. In 2018, other international markets accounted for €3.45bn or 29% of the total export values. 

Dairy was the strongest performer in terms of export volume growth in 2018, with volumes up 5% compared to 2017. Butter had an exceptional year in the US and continental Europe and, for the first time, the value of Irish butter exports exceeded €1bn for the year, representing a 22% increase on 2017’s value.

The value of meat and livestock exports from Ireland in 2018 was just under €4bn, an increase of 1% and a record high for the category. The overall value of live animal exports declined by 8% in 2018 to €161m, despite an increase in the number of animals exported, and Irish seafood exports declined by 13% to €561m.

Edible horticulture and cereal exports were worth €208m, a reduction of 10%; prepared foods exports declined by 16% to €1.8bn. Irish beverage exports were valued at €1.5 billion, a year-on-year decline of 1%. 

Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, remains optimistic about the industry’s prospects for the year ahead: ‘In line with Bord Bia’s market prioritisation work, growth in dairy, meats and seafood in particular will come to a great extent from emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere.’



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