Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 22% last year, to reach a new record high of €16.7 billion, according to the latest Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects Report 2022/23.
The significant increase in food and drink exports – up by €3 billion since last year, and almost 30% on pre-pandemic levels (€13 billion in 2019) – can be attributed to increasing unit prices, due to inflation, and rising input and operational costs, as well as an increase in the volume of goods exported.
The volume of exports for sectors such as Irish beef and dairy increased in 2022, while prepared consumer foods (PCF) and drinks achieved new milestones in the value of their respective exports.
Value-added meat and seafood exports, captured under PCF, reached over €1 billion in 2022, the report shows.
Bord Bia noted that this represented an increase of 30%, compared to the previous year, with exports surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 23%. Within meat, this subcategory represents a vitally important outlet for traditionally low-value cuts.
‘Significant Global Challenges’
Speaking at the launch of the report, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, welcomed the sector’s impressive results in the face of significant global challenges.
“I’m proud to announce today’s excellent results, which were delivered amid a profoundly challenging year for the sector, most notably the impact of the war in Ukraine, inflationary pressures on producers, and ongoing Covid-19 disruptions to the global supply chain,” McConalogue said.
“Against the backdrop of this difficult global trading environment, Ireland has continued to maintain its reputation as a world-class sustainable food producer and supplier, while also successfully securing new business in new markets around the world.”
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine estimates total Irish agri-food exports – including non-edible products not included within Bord Bia’s report – to have been worth €18.7 billion in 2022, representing a 21% year-on-year increase.
‘Highest-Ever Value Of Exports’
Jim O’Toole, the chief executive of Bord Bia, echoed the minister’s sentiments and said that the industry’s performance in the face of such challenging market conditions has been highly commendable.
“In my first Export Performance and Prospects Report as CEO of Bord Bia, I’m delighted to welcome the highest-ever value of exports by the Irish food, drink and horticulture sector,” O’Toole commented.
“Following two years of profound disruption, 2022 brought a new range of cost and sourcing challenges, making this year’s export performance even more impressive. Today’s results are testament to the resilience of one of Ireland’s most important export industries.”
Looking ahead, O’Toole said that the industry needs to be responsive to a range of oncoming challenges in 2023, as the difficult trading conditions of this year will endure and evolve.
“As 2023 is predicted to be another disruptive year of economic difficulty and challenging supply chains, Bord Bia will continue to be agile and responsive to client and sector needs in what is likely to be a period of ongoing volatility,” O’Toole added.
“For Irish food and drink exporters, it will be increasingly important to be aware of how consumers respond to the current cost-of-living crisis, and to position their products accordingly.”
Irish dairy exports were valued at €6.8 billion in 2022 – a year-on-year value increase of 33%, or €1.7 billion, driven mainly by Irish butter (up by 26% in value) and cheese (up by 25% in value).
Dairy remains the largest element within Irish food and drink exports, with over 1.7 million tonnes of product shipped to over 130 markets worldwide.
This was followed by the meat and livestock sector, with exports valued at over €4 billion, representing a 15% value increase (+€520 million), compared to 2021.
In 2022, PCF export values exceeded €3 billion.
Meanwhile, Irish drink exports reached almost €2 billion (+22%, year on year) for the first time.
Improved prices helped drive the performance in Irish seafood, with export values increasing by 3% (or €17 million), year on year, to reach €530 million.
Finally, exports of Irish horticulture and cereals exceeded €300 million.