Food & Drink Exports Increase By 12%

According to new figures released today by Bord Bia, the value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 12%, or €1 billion, in 2011 to reach an all-time high of €8.85 billion.

For the first nine months of the year, food and drink exports increased at three times the rate of total merchandise exports. As a result the sector accounted for 25% of the rise in total export revenue. Over the last two years, the value of Irish food and drink exports has increased by €1.8 billion or 25%.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Carey, Chairman of Bord Bia said: "This is an excellent achievement and the industry is to be commended for its strong export performance, which affirms its positioning at the heart of the Irish economy. Global market conditions, reflected in strong commodity prices, remain favourable and exporters are voicing continued optimism about their business prospects for the year ahead. The industry is well on track to deliver on the ambitious targets of Food Harvest 2020."

The 2011 export performance was boosted by global prices for major commodities, a positive supply/demand balance in some key categories, a tentative return to price inflation across most major European markets and reduced volatility in exchange rates. Agricultural commodity prices remain at record levels with the FAO food price index recording growth of 26% during the first 11 months of 2011. A number of key sectors - including dairy, beverages and pigmeat - also recorded higher output. Overall, it is estimated that volume growth accounted for 25% of the rise in food and drink exports. The strongest performing categories were dairy (€2.6 billion), meat (€2.59 billion), prepared foods (€1.5 billion) and seafood (€420 million).

The immediate prospects for Irish food and drink exports in 2012 remain positive, although lower volume output availability in some sectors combined with some further softening in global commodity prices from the peaks recorded in 2011 are likely to result in more limited growth potential in the short term.

Among the key initiatives promoted by Bord Bia this year will be the continued development of its sustainability certification programme, designed to help differentiate our exports and enhance market returns. Since its roll-out last May, the carbon footprint of over 13,000 Irish beef farms has been measured as a routine part of the quality assurance scheme, and work is underway to add water footprint and biodiversity measures. A pilot programme for the dairy sector is near completion.


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