The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Michael Creed TD, today announced that the value of Irish agri-food and drink exports had exceeded €11 billion for the first time ever in 2016.
The announcement was made today at the launch of Bord Bia’s 'Export Performance and Prospects 2016-2017 report.'
Last year, marked the 7th successive year of growth of Irish food and drink exports with a further 2% increase recorded to reach a record high of €11.15 billion, an expansion of 41% or €3.3 billion since 2010.
The strongest performing sectors last year were prepared foods (€1.92 billion, +9%), beverages (€1.4 billion, +4%) and dairy product and ingredients (€3.38 billion, +2%).
While trade with the UK fell by 8%, triggered by challenging exchange rates, uncertainty arising from Brexit and further competitive pressures, this was offset by increased exports to international and emerging markets such as North America (+€200 million to reach €1.1 billion), China (+35% to reach €845 million) and the rest of Asia (+6% to reach €330 million).
There was an overall increase of 13% in shipments to international markets, to reach a value of approximately €3.5 billion.
A recovery was also seen in continental EU markets (+3% to reach €3.53 billion) as improving economic conditions led to stronger demand in key categories. The Euro strengthened by 13% against sterling in 2016 while there was little change in exchange rates with the US dollar. According to Bord Bia estimates, the underlying weakness and volatility of sterling negatively affected the competitiveness of Irish exports reducing the value of trade by a potential €570 million.
Weaker prices negatively affected the value of beef and edible horticulture exports while lower volumes affected seafood exports.
Livestock exports declined in value terms largely due to a significant reduction in live cattle shipments, while poultry exports recorded a significant decrease due to both reduced prices and lower volumes.
Commenting on the report, Minister Creed said, "The UK will continue to be a critically important market for Irish agri-food products. The triggering of Article 50 and the continued uncertainty around Brexit will present significant challenges for the sector."
He added, "However, the 2016 export figures illustrate clearly the importance of collaborative action by Government, its agencies and the industry, and the potential for pro-active effort on international markets to mitigate the risks associated with these challenges."