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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