Irish butter exports exceeded €1bn for first time ever in 2018

The value of food and drink exports did not increase year on year

Irish butter exports exceeded €1bn for first time ever in 2018

Butter of the brand Kerrygold isseen in Duesseldorf, Germany in 2017 | Image: Federico Gambarini/DPA/PA Images

New figures from Bord Bia show the value of food and drink exports from Ireland last year was €12.11bn.

That is an increase of over €4.7bn since 2010.

Their value has increased more than 64% in the last eight years.

But for the first time during this period, the value of exports did not increase year on year.

While butter had an exceptional year in the US and continental Europe.

For the first time, the value of Irish butter exports exceeded €1bn for the year - a 22% increase on 2017.

Source: Bord Bia

It was also a good year for Irish cheese, with exporters opening up new markets.

While more than 50% of Ireland's cheese exports go to the UK, 22% went to countries outside the UK and continental Europe.

This is a significant increase from 17% in 2010.

The value of cheese exports to Asia and to North America also increased, by 12% and 35% respectively, to €75m.


Source: Bord Bia

The report shows Irish alcohol drinks exports were worth €1.25bn last year.

The US remains the largest market for Irish beverage exports - followed by the UK, Canada, Germany and France.

The US market for Irish whiskey grew by more than 10%, while the value of Irish cream liqueur exports rose by 5% to €342m

Elsewhere, the report notes that Irish gin is emerging as a category for the international consumer.

Irish food and drink were exported to over 180 countries last year.

However volume growth in many categories was counteracted by global price volatility.

Source: Bord Bia

Bord Bia said: "This led to circumstances where Irish producers exported more volume but the Euro value recorded for those exports declined.

"Irish food and drink exports were 50,000 tonnes higher in 2018 than 2017".

The value of dairy exports was €4bn, while the value of meat and livestock exports were just under €4bn.

Reacting to the figures IFA President Joe Healy said the small decline in value underlines the price pressure on farmers.

"Volume growth is all well and good, but the primary producer has to see a decent price return for their work and investment.

"Given the high standards we are expected to reach in producing food, there has to be a viable price and income for farmers".

He said the report also reinforces the importance of the UK market and, by extension, the "catastrophe" that a hard Brexit outcome would mean for farmers.

Read the full report here