The Irish food and drink sector recorded the fifth consecutive year of growth in exports during 2014. Much of the growth was recorded in trade to International markets with Asia in particular and the Middle East, North America and Africa recording strong increases. Good market demand in these regions helped to offset the ongoing competitive pressures evident across European markets where consumer sentiment remained fragile. A weakening in the euro relative to sterling helped to improve the competitive position of Irish exports in the UK as the year progressed.
The strongest performers in terms of export growth were prepared foods, dairy, seafood, poultry, pigmeat and edible horticulture.
The growth in Irish pigmeat exports to International markets evident over recent years was negatively impacted by the restrictions on supplying Russia for much of the year. Irish pigmeat shipments to the United Kingdom performed well with volumes 5% higher at 87,000 tonnes. The value of this trade is estimated at G330 million, which is broadly similar to a year earlier. Exports to the Continental EU markets showed a rise in 2014 driven mainly by a strong increase in shipments to Denmark, which more than offset lower exports to Germany and France. For the year, exports to the Continent are estimated to have reached 41,000 tonnes and were worth an estimated G95m. Exports of Irish pigmeat to International markets performed strongly despite the issues with supplying Russia. Outside of the UK, China remains the second most important market in volume terms, with exports for the first nine months of the year growing by 18%, reflecting the ongoing increase in demand in response to growing per capita wealth in that market. As a result of the Russian market being effectively closed to Irish exporters from the end of January, product that would usually be directed towards this market has been redirected to different locations such as South Korea and the Philippines. Between these two markets, exports for the first nine months of the year increased fivefold to 10,500 tonnes. A strong recovery in Japanese demand especially for belly was also evident, with exports running six times higher at 9,300 tonnes. The Australian market which reopened for uncooked pigmeat product in March 2013 continues to show good potential. For the year exports of Irish pigmeat to markets outside of the EU are estimated to have grown by 10% to 70,000 tonnes. This trade was valued at an estimated G140m.
January 2015/ Bord Bia/ Ireland.