The value of Irish food and drink exports last year exceeded a staggering €11bn for the first time in the country’s history-and meat had a big part to play. Last year marked the seventh successive year of export growth for Irish food and drink, with prepared foods, sheepmeat and pork growing the fastest in a record-breaking year for the industry.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said one of the notable achievements was the fact that Ireland successfully diversified its market in a year when the UK-it’s largest trading partner-voted in favour of leaving the EU.
‘While trade with the UK fell by 8% triggered by challenging exchange rates, uncertainty arising from Brexit and further competitive pressures, this was offset by increased exports to international and emerging markets such as North America, China and the rest of Asia’ said Creed on January 11th.
The Minister added that Brexit had led to serious currency volatility and unprecedented uncertainty with the country’s number one trading partner. This challenge highlighted the importance of market access and the need for more ‘continued investment in innovation and competitiveness’. Creed said the UK would remain a ‘critically important market’ for Irish food products post-Brexit and did not sugar-coat the headwinds ahead as the UK looks set to trigger Article 50 by March 2017. ‘The 2016 export figures illustrate clearly the importance of collaborative action by government, its agencies and the industry, and the potential for proactive effort o international markets to mitigate the risks associated with these challenges’ said Creed.