IRELAND - In 2015 it is estimated that the value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 3 per cent to exceed €10.8 billion for the first time.
The Irish Food Board (Bord Bia) said the food and drink sector recorded its sixth consecutive year of export growth in 2015 as increased output in key sectors, favourable exchange rate developments and better returns for beef, seafood and beverages, helped to offset a considerable weakening in global dairy prices.
Presenting ‘Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects Report 2015/2016’ Chief Executive Aidan Cotter commented: “Irish food exporters registered record growth, increasing exports by some €355 million in a period when global food commodity prices declined by approximately 19 per cent, the Russian market was effectively closed to EU food exports, and consumer sentiment remained sluggish across the Eurozone.
"This year will present further opportunities for growth in most sectors notwithstanding challenges from continued global dairy price pressures through the early months of 2016.”
The strongest categories in terms of export growth were beverages (+10 per cent), beef (+6 per cent), and seafood (+4 per cent). The sustained growth in exports of Irish Whiskey, up by an estimated 18 per cent, was the most significant driver in the beverages category.
The growth in dairy exports, up 4 per cent, occurred in the face of an exceptionally adverse trading environment and reflects the strong growth in the volume of specialist nutrition powders, which increased by 25 per cent overall and by 40 per cent to China alone.
Launching the report the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney complimented the industry for achieving a record sixth consecutive year of export growth.
“The food and drink industry has been a driving force in our economic recovery since 2009, delivering cumulative export growth of 51 per cent.
"Irish producers and companies have yet again demonstrated in 2015 their ambition, innovativeness and ability to meet buyer and consumer needs in highly competitive and complex trading environments.”
There have also been some significant developments in the market distribution of Ireland’s food exports last year.
The US consolidated its position as the second largest market after the UK, with exports growing by 40 per cent to an estimated €755 million, on top of higher exports of dairy and beverages.
Exports to China grew by 16 per cent, maintaining its position as our fifth most important market and our second largest for dairy and pork. Exports to the Middle East grew by 12 per cent, but exports to Russia and to the African region were weaker.
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