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Food and Drink Ireland - The Facts

Published: 07/07/2016

The agri-food and drink sector accounts for:

  • 7.6% of Ireland’s economy-wide GVA (source: DAFM, 2014).
  • 12.3% of Ireland’s exports.
  • 8.6% of total employment (source: DAFM, 2014).
  • Irish agri-food and drink exports increased by an estimated 3% in 2015 to approximately €10.8 bn (source: Bord Bia, 2016).
  • The UK as the main destination for Irish agri-food and drink exports in 2015 accounted for 41% of all exports.
  • 31% of Irish agri-food and drink exports went to Continental EU markets.
  • 28% Irish agri-food and drink exports went to international markets.


Exports

The latest estimates of the distribution of our agri-food and drink exports in 2015 by sector are:

30% dairy products and ingredients
17% prepared consumer foods
22% beef
2% live animals
12% beverages
5% pigmeat
3% poultry
2% sheepmeat
5% seafood
2% edible horticulture and cereals

Primary Agriculture

In 2014, Gross Agricultural Output (GAO) was valued at €7.12 billion. (DAFM, 2015)

The beef category accounts for 39.3%, while the dairy sector accounts for 29.4%. Other sectors to have a share in GAO include pig (7.6%), sheep (4%), cereals (4.4%), and other (15.3%).


Cattle and Beef

BeefThere were 6.96 million cattle in Ireland according to the June 2015 livestock survey. This represents a 0.5% increase on previous year levels. Irish beef production is predominately a grass based system, with around 564,000 tonnes produced in 2015.

Beef self-sufficiency is estimated at over 640%.

In 2015, Ireland exported an estimated 500,000 tonnes of beef worth approximately €2.41 billion.

In 2015, 178,000 cattle were exported live from Ireland worth approximately €135 million.


Sheep and Sheepmeat

SheepThe Irish sheep flock showed a rise of 1.3% and totalled 5.16 million head, with the breeding flock decreasing by around 1.1% to 2.56 million head according to the June 2015 livestock survey.

Net production in 2015 was over 58,000 tonnes and self-sufficiency is estimated at over 370%.

During 2015, Ireland exported an estimated 47,000 tonnes of sheepmeat which was valued at approximately €230 million.

The UK and France continue to be the core markets for Irish sheepmeat accounting for over 60% of total export volumes in 2015.


Pigs and Pigmeat

PorkIn the June 2015 CSO Livestock Survey, there were 1.54 million pigs in Ireland, this represents a decrease of 1.2% on prior year levels.

Net production in 2015 was over 276,000 tonnes with a self-sufficiency rate estimated at around 195%.

In 2015, Ireland exported an estimated 230,000 tonnes of pigmeat worth an estimated €570 million.

In 2015, the UK was the main market for Irish pigmeat taking 40% of our total exports. Continental EU markets accounted for 25% of our pigmeat exports while the remaining 35% went to international markets.


Dairy

CheeseIn 2015, total milk output (incl. imports) was estimated at 6,982 million litres. (CSO, 2016)

From this total milk output in 2015, 507 million litres were consumed as liquid milk. In addition to this, 200,000 tonnes of butter and 121,800 tonnes of skim milk powder were produced. 215,000 tonnes of cheese were produced in 2014.

In 2015, total dairy and ingredients exports increased by an estimated 4% to €3.24 billion.


Crops

Area (‘000 hectare) under certain crops in June 2015 (CSO 2015) were:

  • Barley - 201.8
  • Wheat - 64.9
  • Oats - 23.3
  • Potatoes - 8.4

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