Irish food and drink exports decline but dairy increases

Irish food and drink exports for 2020 were worth €13 billion, a 2% decline over 2019, according to Irish industry body BordBia. However, dairy exports saw an increase to €5.16bn, which was an increase of 3% over fiscal year 2019’s €5.03bn.

Dairy continues to be the largest export segment for Ireland. It is the second year that exports have been worth more than €5bn and occurred despite commodity price reductions for elements of the export mix including butter.

Key powders and butter contributed to the rise, Bord Bia says. Butter itself was worth €960m in exports, and volumes improved by 12% to 290,000 tonnes, despite a US tariff that has been passed directly to consumers.

Bord Bia notes that dairy is the most diversified of all food categories for destinations, with 49% of all dairy exports destined for outside the UK or EU27. Dairy exports to Asia increased by 4% to €874m, those to Africa increased 22% to €662m and the Middle East saw increases of 15% to €339m.

Exports from Ireland have increase by 16% in value since 2016, the year the UK voted to leave the European Union. The majority of that has been to EU27 markets or further afield, but exports to the UK have incfreased to €4.3bn for food and drink in total for Ireland.

Of key markets in 2020, the US export market for Ireland saw a steep decline of 10% year on year, the UK saw a drop of 5% in export value, while the EU27 also saw a 3% decline. Meanwhile, exports to Africa increased by 27% and to the Middle East by 12%.

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