Record performance of €13bn in 2019 for Irish food and drink exports


The publication of Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report 2019/2020 by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, reveals a stand-out 2019 performance by Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture industry as exports reached €13bn in 2019 for the first time. 

This is the highest level of exports in Bord Bia’s 25-year history and brings to a close a decade of consistent and extraordinary growth in which food, drink and horticulture exports have grown by 67%, or €5.5bn, since 2010.

Speaking at the launch of the report, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, said: “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. Total Irish agri-food exports are estimated at a record €14.5 billion in 2019. This figure includes €1.5 billion in non-edible agri-food sector goods, including forestry and animal feedstuffs, which are not included in the Bord Bia figures. Bord Bia’s figures show that food and drink exports have grown by 7% to €13 billion. It is important to acknowledge too the contribution that Ireland’s farm families have made to this export performance, and to recognise the need for the supply chain to deliver a reasonable commercial return for those upon whom the production of high quality consumer products and raw materials depends. 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.”

According to Bord Bia, growth across key categories and to priority markets has been achieved against a backdrop of an increasingly complex global trading environment. Shifting commodity prices, weakening confidence in the global economy, along with the increased use of tariffs as an expression of trade policy by the US - directly affecting Irish food and drink exports for the first time - all impacted various sectors of Irish food and drink in different ways in 2019.

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia commented: “The past decade of consistent and significant growth points to the resilience and innovation that underpins Ireland’s largest indigenous sector. Nearly half of that growth, 48% - €2.7bn - 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 over €2bn more worth of dairy leaving Ireland’s shores while Irish whiskey also saw a significant 370% increase in its global export footprint to be worth €727m in 2019.  China including Hong Kong is now the largest market outside of those in the EU for Irish beef with future growth anticipated in the coming years as a result of rising consumption and increasing consumer preference for high quality beef.”

Commenting on the prospects for Irish food and drink exports in 2020, Tara McCarthy, stated: “Under the strategic guidance of the FoodWise 20205 plan, the target for food and drink exports in 2025 is a value of €19bn. To achieve this, we need to remain sharp in our focus, agile in the face of continued uncertainty and we must double down on reinforcing our purpose for premium. We will face renewed and increased pressure to maintain and grow our premium on the market in the face of global turbulence arising from the outcome of Brexit, US trade policy and China’s growing geopolitical influence on how we produce and consume food. That said, our focus remains clear; to deliver broad based sustainable growth for Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and our world class food and drink producers.”