The value of food, drink and horticulture product exports from Ireland decreased by 2% year-on-year last year to €13 billion, according to Bord Bia's newly-published "Export Performance and Prospects 2020/21" report.
As reported by The Irish Times, Bord Bia's report said that the low decrease of 2% is "remarkable", considering the "unprecedented" challenge caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and that it underlines "the dividend of a decade-long diversification strategy" that has led to the widening of Ireland's export base.
However, Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy warned that extra costs and complexities of trade with the UK post-Brexit are likely to result in significant challenges in 2021.
Beef, Seafood And Alcohol Exports
Bord Bia's "Export Performance and Prospects 2020/21" report reveals that the value of beef exports declined by 2% year-on-year last year to €1.9 billion, while the value of seafood exports decreased by 10% to €433 million, and the value of drinks exports decreased by 19% to €1.3 billion, with the value of whiskey exports specifically decreasing by over €200 million.
However, according to the Bord Bia report, the value of alcohol exports was 12% higher last year than it was pre-Brexit in 2016, and the report notes that declines in the values of exports do not necessarily reflect declines in sales, as a significant volume of Irish spirits was in place in the US market at the start of 2020, for example, in the context of ongoing US-EU tariff disputes, which have threatened the extension of tariffs on spirits in both directions.
Reacting to the decline in the value of alcohol exports last year, Drinks Ireland director Patricia Callan said, "Ireland's drinks industry is dynamic, innovative, and has performed strongly in domestic and export markets in recent years. While 2021 will continue to be challenging for the sector, as it seeks to recover from the impact of the pandemic and navigates the challenges of Brexit, US tariffs and a range of other issues, it is resilient, and we are confident that it can regain some growth."
Pig Meat, Sheep Meat And Dairy
Bord Bia's report shows that the declines in the values of beef, seafood and alcohol exports were offset by increases in pig meat, sheep meat and dairy exports.
The value of pig meat exports increased by 14% last year to €586 million while the value of sheep meat exports increased by 12% to €356 million, with the overall value of meat exports rising by 2% to €3.4 billion, and the value of dairy exports increased by 3% to €5.2 billion.
EU, International Markets And UK Growth Statistics
The report also reveals that the majority of the growth in food exports since 2016 (€1.9 billion) comes from the EU (46%) and international markets (43%), while the UK accounts for 10% of growth.
However, the value of food and drink exports to the UK has increased by €1.9 billion, or 16%, since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016.
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.