THE VALUE OF Irish food and drink exports continues to grow – and approached a record €10 billion for the first time in 2013.
That’s according to new figures released by Bord Bia today, which show that the figure represents an increase of 9 per cent on the previous year and 40 per cent in the last four years.
Revenues are almost €3 billion higher than in 2009.
While export values for dairy product and ingredients exceeded €3 billion for the first time, there were also strong performances for meat and livestock (€3.3billion) and prepared foods (€1.65 billion).
The Christmas Tree Growers Association estimated that 250,000 of the 650,000 trees harvested were exported in 2013, with an estimated export value of €5.5 million.
There were strong mushroom exports, a decline in seafood exports, but an increased shipment of whiskey and mineral waters.
The strongest performing categories of prepared foods included fat-filled milk powders, cooked meats, pizza, sauces, bakery and confectionary.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD said “This leading performance in what was a challenging year for the industry, highlights the key role of agri-food, Ireland’s largest indigenous sector, in underpinning exports and economic activity.”
The largest export destination for Irish food and drink remains the UK, with 42 per cent of exports worth an estimated €4.1 billion reaching that market in 2013.
Meanwhile, exports of food and drink to other EU markets increased by 11 per cent in 2013 reaching €3.2 billion.
There were also strong exports to Asia, and to a lesser extent Russia, said Bord Bia, which contributed toward an increase of 6 per cent in the value of trade to international markets – this exceeded €2.6 billion in the period.
Exports to China grew by over 40 per cent, with values trebling over the last three years to reach €390 million in 2013.
China is now Ireland’s sixth largest market overall, with strong dairy and pork exports contributing to this, and seafood and beverage exports also growing.
Bord Bia said that eventual access to the beef market will further broaden the industry’s presence in China, and the inclusion of hide exports from the beef industry would bring the market’s value overall for the sector to €432 million.
Bord Bia said that the market environment for Irish food and drink remains “positive” for the year ahead.
A Bord Bia industry survey showed that exporters remain positive about prospects for their business.
Some 75 per cent of exporters expect their export sales to grow in 2014. Next year, Bord Bia will continue to take part in trade exhibitions, including Gulfood in Dubai.
It will also roll out its Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme to provide a uniform mechanism of recording, monitoring and improving the sustainability of Irish dairying at farm level.
This coincides with Bord Bia’s plans to invest almost €3.5million during the year in a new marketing campaign, under the Origin Green banner, to promote Ireland as a source of world-class sustainably produced food and drink.