Growing meat exports help Ireland to record year

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Irish beef exports are now valued at nearly €2.5bn and represent a fifth of all exports
Irish beef exports are now valued at nearly €2.5bn and represent a fifth of all exports

Related tags Meat Trade International trade Beef Lamb Livestock Pork

Increased volumes of beef, pigmeat and sheepmeat helped the value of Irish food and drink exports reach a record high of €12.6bn last year – a rise of 13%, figures from the Irish Food Board have shown.

The total value of meat and livestock exports increased by 8% to almost €3.9bn more than reversing the decline recorded in 2016, Bord Bia’s Export performance and Prospects 2017-2018 report found.

The value of Irish beef exports climbed by 5% to almost €2.5bn representing a fifth of all exports, while the volume of beef available for export increased to 615,000 tonnes with the average price increasing marginally by 1% per tonne.

Pigmeat export volumes also rose by 3% to 247,000 tonnes bringing the total value of exports to roughly €712m – 56% of which went to the UK.

France and UK remain strong markets

China was named the second largest market receiving 13%, a four point fall versus 2016.

Elsewhere, sheepmeat export volumes rose by 14% to 57,000 tonnes, coupled with a minor fall in prices yielding an overall growth of 12% in value terms to almost €275m.

France and the UK remained the largest markets for Irish sheepmeat, the report stated.

Bord Bia estimated that the value of poultry exports increased to €295m – up 2% - driven by slightly higher volumes and improved unit prices, meanwhile the value of the livestock export trade also jumped by 21% to €175m, reversing the decline in trade reported last year it said.

Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia’s CEO said the value of Ireland’s butter exports rose by a ‘remarkable’ 60% in 2017 to reach €879m.

This growth accounted for over half of the total increase in dairy exports,” she said. “Notwithstanding its impact on the overall export figures, it is worth noting that increased export volumes recorded for both beef and dairy also played a pivotal role in this year’s export performance. Pigmeat and sheepmeat also recorded increased volumes at three and 4% respectively.​”

However, McCarthy cautioned that “sterling volatility​” combined with “slower economic growth, food inflation and lower wage forecasts​” would put further pressure on the UK market as an export destination. “While the UK remains our most important market, these prospects provide an additional incentive for Irish exporters to explore new markets within the EU26 and beyond,​” she added.

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