Figures released today by Ireland’s food board, Bord Bia, pegged total food and drink exports for 2011 at €8.85 billion.
This strong growth has been boosted by a positive balance in key categories for supply and demand, global prices for major commodities, reduced volatility in exchange rates as well as a tentative shift to price inflation across most major European markets, the board noted.
Paul Kelly, director of industry body Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) welcomed the “record food and drink export figures”.
“This reflects the export orientation of the Irish industry which is focused on the customer, innovation and cost competitiveness and high quality products,” Kelly told FoodNavigator.com.
He agreed with the board’s reasoning for the growth and said that it is underpinned by the strong international commodity price environment and volume in key categories.
The strongest categories driving growth were dairy (€2.6bn), meat (€2.59bn), prepared foods (€1.5bn) and seafood (€420m), the data showed.
Micheal Carey, chairman of the Irish food board, Bord Bia, said: “The meat and dairy sectors account for almost two-thirds of total food and drink exports, and indications that breeding herds are expanding, combined with the lifting of milk quotas from 2015, will underpin export growth into the future.”
Carey noted that the beef industry achieved an increase in market returns, almost twice the European average.
“Global market conditions, reflected in strong commodity prices, remain favourable and exporters are voicing continued optimism about their business prospects for the year ahead,” Carey added.
He said that there is continued diversification by industry into new markets, with exports to Asia up by one-third and many producers committing to further expansion.
Fast, underpinning growth
The data showed that for the first nine months of 2011, exports in food and drinks sector increased at three times the rate of the country’s total merchandise exports.
This sector now accounts for 25% of the rise in total export revenue in Ireland.
Figures revealed strength in this sector, with the value of Irish food and drink exports increasing by €1.8 billion over the last two years.
Carey said: “This is an excellent achievement and the industry is to be commended for its strong export performance.”
The board noted that immediate prospects for Irish food and drink exports in 2012 remain positive. However some growth will be limited in the short term due to the softening in global commodity prices and lower volume output availability in some sectors.