Bord Bia highlights butter, cheese growth in export report

Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report 2019/2020 by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, reveals a stand out 2019 performance by Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture industry as exports reached €13bn in 2019 (2018: €12.1bn) for the first time. This is the highest level of exports in Bord Bia’s 25-year history and brings to a close a decade of consistent and extraordinary growth in which food, drink and horticulture exports have grown by 67%, or the equivalent of €5.6bn, since 2010.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Creed says, “2019’s record performance for Irish food and drink exports is testament to the resilience and dedication to sustainability and world class quality amongst our indigenous producers. A diversified approach to increasing our reach within the global marketplace has yielded record levels of growth with a strong performance recorded across most sectors and categories. That said, we face into a global trading environment in 2020 which continues to be marked by volatility and political uncertainty. My department will continue to work with Bord Bia to support Ireland’s largest indigenous industry as it faces into both the opportunities and challenges of 2020, a year which could be instrumental in defining the next decade for the sector.”
Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, adds, “2019 was a watershed year for Ireland’s food and drink industry not only in the total value of exports achieved but also in the make up of their destination. For the first time export levels to Continental Europe exceeded exports to the UK. This result gives further impetus to the market prioritisation work undertaken by industry, DAFM and Bord Bia over recent years.”
Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report highlights overall export growth in 2019 of 7% to €13bn, compared to €12.1bn in 2018. Growth across key categories and to priority markets has been achieved against a backdrop of an increasingly complex global trading environment. Shifting commodity prices, weakening confidence in the global economy, along with the increased use of tariffs as an expression of trade policy by the US – directly affecting Irish food and drink exports for the first time – all impacted various sectors of Irish food and drink in different ways in 2019.
However, 2019 marks the tenth consecutive year of positive export growth for Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture sector with exports up 67%, or the equivalent of €5.6bn.
McCarthy states, “Nearly 48% of that growth – €2.5bn – came from exports to places outside of the EU and demonstrates the importance of continually looking to new horizons in Ireland’s market diversification strategy for our world class food and drink produce. This decade has seen almost €3bn more worth of dairy leaving Ireland’s shores .”
Irish food and drink produce is now exported to over 180 countries worldwide. In 2019 the impact of a relentless focus on market diversification is evident in the broad-based global growth achieved. EU markets accounted for 35% of exports (+1%), the UK accounted for 34% (-3%) while international markets (the rest of the world) accounted for 31% (+2%).
Dairy for its part is maintaining its position as a pillar of Irish food and drink exports, Ireland’s dairy sector grew in value by 11% in 2019 to €4.4 billion. Despite weakening commodity prices, particularly in key categories like butter, 2019 represented the third consecutive year in which the value of exports exceeded €4 billion.
Reaching a value of €1.2 billion, butter remained the category leader in 2019. Increasing diversification proved fruitful for Irish cheese exporters, with an overall increase of 22% in exports derived from strong performance in continental Europe, as well as in the UK, which remains Ireland’s primary market for cheese exports.
While the world economy is gearing towards a slowdown, shifts in consumer preferences in developing economies towards dairy and animal protein consumption and production constraints impacting across global agriculture provide reasons for cautious optimism that Irish food and drink exports can sustain its path of growth in 2020.
In the UK market, this will be contingent on 2020 delivering a firm step forward in the Brexit debate, with consumer and economic sentiment likely to be emboldened by a clearer picture of how the future relationship between the EU and the UK will take shape.

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