Food and drink exports continue to grow according to Bord Bia’s review of the sector, and the outlook for the year ahead is equally as positive.
This year it is estimated that the value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 3% to exceed €10.8bn for the first time. The food and drink sector recorded its sixth consecutive year of export growth in 2015 as increased output in key sectors, favourable exchange rate developments and better returns for beef, seafood and beverages, helped to offset a considerable weakening in global dairy prices.
“Irish food exporters registered record growth, increasing exports by some €355m in a period when global food commodity prices declined by approximately 19%, the Russian market was effectively closed to EU food exports, and consumer sentiment remained sluggish across the eurozone,” Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia said this morning when presenting the ‘Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects Report 2015/2016’. According to Cotter, 2016 will present opportunities for growth in most sectors but there will be challenges due to global dairy price pressures.
In 2015, the strongest categories in terms of export growth were beverages (+10%), beef (+6%), and seafood (+4%). The sustained growth in exports of Irish Whiskey, up by an estimated 18%, was the most significant driver in the beverages category. The growth in dairy exports – up 4% – occurred despite adverse trading conditions and reflects the growth in the volume of specialist nutrition powders, which increased by 25% overall and by 40% to China alone.
Launching the report the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney complimented the industry for achieving a record sixth consecutive year of export growth. “The food and drink industry has been a driving force in our economic recovery since 2009, delivering cumulative export growth of 51%. Irish producers and companies have yet again demonstrated in 2015 their ambition, innovativeness and ability to meet buyer and consumer needs in highly competitive and complex trading environments.”
There have also been some significant developments in the market distribution of Ireland’s food exports last year. The US consolidated its position as our second largest market after the UK, with exports growing by 40% to an estimated €755 million, on top of higher exports of dairy and beverages. Exports to China grew by 16%, maintaining its position as our fifth most important market and our second largest for dairy and pork. Exports to the Middle East grew by 12%, but exports to Russia and to the African region were weaker.
Bord Bia also today published its new Statement of Strategy, 2016 – 2018, ‘Making a World of Difference’. The document sets out the key forces driving change in the marketplace and the strategic pillars that will guide the agency’s activities in the period ahead. It includes a renewed focus on routes to market and the importance of building its international market presence.
“My Department along with Bord Bia and industry will continue to seek out new markets and new products to guard against the inevitable challenges facing a small open economy exporting 80% of the food we produce,” the minister added. “For this reason I am delighted that Bord Bia is to open new overseas offices in Singapore and Warsaw to offer support and insight to exporters targeting South East Asia and Eastern Europe.”
Bord Bia has also announced the establishment of a new Insight Centre which will become operational in the early months of 2016. ‘The Thinking House’ will be located at the organisation’s Dublin offices and is designed to help companies successfully underpin new marketing and brand initiatives by ensuring the consumer is at the heart of everything they do.