THE value of Irish food and drink exports has approached €10bn for the first time in 2013, new figures released by Bord Bia show.
And sentiment in the industry is upbeat as the export figure represent an increase of 9pc on the previous year to €9.9bn and 40pc in the past four years with revenues nearly €3bn higher than in 2009.
The figures also showed that the horsemeat scandal of this time last year did no lasting damage to meat and livestock exports which increased by 8pc or €245m to reach 3.3bn, meaning they account for a third of all Irish food and drink exports.
Processed foods also fared well with growth of 15pc to €1.65bn up to around €1.65bn, with fat-filled milk powders, cooked meats, pizza, sauces, bakery and confectionery all performing well, although trade was slower in frozen ready meals.
Export values for dairy product and ingredients exceeded €3bn for the first time and strong performances for meat and livestock (€3.3bn) and prepared foods (€1.65bn) all contributed to the positive outcome.
“Significant growth in 2013 has brought export values in the Irish Food and Drink sector to record levels," said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
Export values of almost €10 billion are really impressive, and demonstrate the clear opportunity and benefit of investing in a sector with proven resilience, a significant domestic economic footprint and strong ability to grow. With increasing demand from more affluent consumers in key world markets, there is little doubt that the €12 billion export target set out in the industry-led strategy for the agri sector Food Harvest 2020 is well in sight.”
Aidan Cotter, Bord Bia chief executive added that among the highlights of 2013 have been the double digit growth in dairy and beef export values, the strong recovery in sales to eurozone destinations, and the exceptional performance of the industry in China, now Ireland’s second largest dairy and third largest pork market.
The UK remains the largest export destination for Irish food and drink with 42pc of exports worth an estimated €4.1bn reaching that market in 2013. Exports of food and drink to other EU markets increased by 11pc in 2013 reaching €3.2bn with the key markets of Germany, France and the Netherlands all recording double digit growth.
Strong exports to Asia, and to a lesser extent Russia, contributed positively toward an increase of 6pc in the value of trade to international markets, which exceeded €2.6bn in the period.