Food and drink export levels hailed
A record 10 billion euro worth of Irish food and drink was exported last year.
Bord Bia recorded a 9% increase in the amount of goods going overseas in 2013, including 3bn euro worth of diary products and ingredients, 3.3bn euro in livestock and 1.65bn euro of prepared foods.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the growth has brought export values in the Irish food and drink sector to record levels.
"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," he said.
"Export values of almost 10bn euro 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."
The UK remains the largest export destination for Irish food and drink, accounting for 42% and an estimated 4.1bn euro.
Exports of food and drink to other EU markets increased by 11% - reaching 3.2bn euro - with the key markets of Germany, France and the Netherlands all recording double digit growth.
Elsewhere exports to China grew by over 40%, with values trebling over the last three years to reach 390 million euro. It is now Ireland's sixth largest market overall, driven in particular by strong dairy and pork exports.
Aidan Cotter, Bord Bia chief executive, said annual highlights include 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.
"The industry is well positioned to exploit the relentless growth in the global demand for food, underpinned by its grass-based production systems and its ability to build its presence on both new and established markets," he added.
IFA president John Bryan said the record food and drink export figures are further proof of the ability of the agriculture sector to play a central role in Ireland's economic recovery.
"Our sector is at the centre of the rural economy and will deliver jobs and export growth if supported," he added.
"We are well on track to deliver the Food Harvest 2020 target of 12bn euro in food exports".