RISING commodity prices and a weak euro helped the food and drink sector grow export sales by 11pc last year, it was revealed yesterday.
Bord Bia said exports from the sector topped €7.9bn compared to €7.1bn a year earlier on the back of higher commodity prices and better currency conditions as well as what the board described as "a more stable consumer environment".
Improved competitiveness also played a part in the growth in exports.
Meat and livestock exports increased by €200m, or 9pc, to €2.4bn, while dairy exports, spurred on by higher cheddar and milk powder prices, increased by €300m, or 17pc, to €2.3bn.
The expansion in food and drink exports accounted for around a third of total export growth in the first nine months of 2010, Bord Bia said.
Chief executive Aidan Cotter said the outlook for this year was positive for the industry, pointing to the increase in the world's population.
"The global population will reach seven billion this year and global demand is set to underpin food markets well into the future," he said.
The UK remains the main destination for Irish exports, but exports to Britain were down 2pc on the year.
Despite the strong numbers, Bord Bia admitted there was still a degree of uncertainty about the market into the future. "About a quarter of consumers have had to make significant cuts to living standards and Irish food prices have fallen significantly since 2007. The test now is to maintain our momentum particularly in the areas of cost competitiveness and innovation," Mr Cotter said.