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Bord Bia: Irish Food And Drink Exports Declined In 2023

By Lucy Leiriao
Bord Bia: Irish Food And Drink Exports Declined In 2023

According to an article published by RTÉ, the value of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports declined by 4% last year, to €16.3 billion, following a record-breaking 2022, when exports grew by 22%.

Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report shows that exports were impacted by inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, affecting consumer spending and putting considerable downward pressure on trade prices.

“In the context of that 2022 increase, the drop of 4% was a very solid performance by the sector, which showed growth in some areas,” according to Bord Bia CEO Jim O’Toole. “It was quite a mixed bag, in terms of positive results in some areas and some challenges in different markets.”

A Decline In Dairy

Irish dairy exports – experiencing a year-on-year decrease of 8% – were valued at €6.3 billion.


“We saw a big decrease in the dairy sector, of 8%, and – given that the dairy sector accounts for 40% of the total – that had a big impact on the overall figure,” O’Toole said.

Butter and cheese were the top two export categories in this sector, with each accounting for 21% of dairy exports and both valued at €1.3 billion, but declining by 12% and 4%, respectively.

Meat And Livestock

Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report reveals that the value of meat and livestock exports was stable, at €4.2 billion, as increases in the value of beef, poultry and live exports were offset by lower exports of sheep and pig meat.

On Morning Ireland, CEO O’Toole was asked how Ireland can balance its commitments to combatting climate change against exporting products to faraway markets, like Asia, and he responded by saying that, “relatively speaking,” the production of agriculture and livestock carries a low carbon footprint.


Explaining, O’Toole said, “The big impact on low emissions happens at farm level, and we have [had] a programme in place over ten years, working with the farming sector, to lower our greenhouse gases. We have a programme where, every single week, 700 farms have their carbon footprint measured. We work with other state agencies, like Teagasc and ICBF [Irish Cattle-Breeding Federation], to help farmers at an individual level to increase their efficiency and to lower their emissions.”

Prepared Consumer Foods

The prepared consumer foods sector had a strong year, in value terms, according to Bord Bia, with sales increasing by 7%, to €3.1 billion, due to increased exports of meal solutions, bakery products, soft drinks and juices, but volume growth was muted, particularly in the UK.

The Export Performance and Prospects report shows that the value of drink exports declined by 8%, to €1.8 billion, largely due to short-term market factors in the North American spirit sector. Beer and cider exports increased by 11%.

Seafood sales declined by 14%, to €552 million, largely due to a reduction in open-sea fish and salmon exports, while exports of Irish horticulture and cereals were valued at €295 million in 2023 – a year-on-year decline of 6%.


Posi-Mistic Outlook

According to Bord Bia’s Exporter Sentiment study, the majority (73%) of Irish food and drink exporters remain optimistic about expected market growth in 2024, and companies were most positive about the potential for export growth to Europe and the US.

Despite the positive outlook, more than half (53%) of Irish food and drink companies believe that they have lost competitiveness over the past 12 months, with energy prices, inflation and labour costs having a major impact thereon.

Looking ahead, market volatility and inflation – although easing slowly – will continue to be two key factors this year, while input and labour costs remain a risk to competitiveness.

According to Bord Bia via RTÉ, the market for Irish food, drink and horticulture exports will also remain challenged this year.

Read More: Bord Bia Launches New Campaign To Drive Dairy Export Growth To Malaysia And The Philippines

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