Agri-food exports reached a record value of €19 billion in 2022, according to a new report from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The Annual Review and Outlook for 2023, published today (Monday, November 27), shows that the value of exports rose by 22% when compared with the previous year.

In 2022, the agri-food sector employed 164,900 people, representing 6.5% of the total workforce.

This was spread across 135,000 farms, 2,000 fishing vessels and aquaculture sites and some 2,000 food production and drink enterprises.

The sector is responsible for 4.5 million hectares of agricultural land, over 800,000ha of forestry and now produces 9% of Ireland’s exports each year.

The operating surplus in agriculture has doubled in the last 10 years to €4.7 billion.

Agri-food exports

The report shows that the UK was again Ireland’s top agri-food export destination in 2022, with over €6.7 billion worth of exports.

This was followed by the US (€1.7 billion), the Netherland (€1.6 billion), France (€1.1 billion) and Germany (€1 billion).

Ireland is currently the 8th largest dairy exporter in the world, exporting 90% of our dairy products.

Dairy exports were worth almost €7 billion in 2022, with both butter and cheese exports exceeding €1 billion each.

Over 492,000t of beef was sent overseas with exports worth €3.1 billion, an increase of €620 million on 2021. This includes €1 billion worth of fresh beef exports.

The DAFM report noted that there were an additional 90,000t of cereals produced in 2022, while exports of Irish whiskey exceeded €1 billion.

The estimated value of horticulture output at farm-gate in 2022 was €531 million.


The report noted that 2022 was a challenging year for Irish farmers due to the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on costs.

The price for fertiliser rose by almost 100% during 2022, feeding stuffs costs increased by over 30%, while energy bills jumped by 45%.

“The second quarter of 2023 has seen inflation falling somewhat but the costs to farmers are still significantly higher than they were in early 2021,” the report said.

The average family farm income for 2022 was €45,809, a record year, up by 32% on 2021.

Last year, direct payments accounted for an average of 40% of family farm income.

The report also noted that agriculture greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased in 2022 by 1.2% or 0.29Mt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq), compared to 2021.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue with DAFM chief economist Seán Bell and department colleagues Charlie Brophy and Adam Houlihan

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said that the report underlined “the critical importance of the agriculture, food and marine sectors to the overall national economy”.

“The food, drink and primary production sector accounted for 40% of all export sales by Irish-owned companies, directly supporting 165,000 jobs, or 6.5% of total employment, predominantly in rural and coastal communities.

“This significant domestic economic footprint, including its export profile, reflects the natural comparative advantages of Irish production and a long agricultural tradition,” the minister said.

“The Irish agri-food sector continues to adapt and evolve, operating more efficiently and sustainably year on year.

“We have huge ambition to be a world leader in sustainable food systems and there is proven demand for food produced to our high standards.

“I believe that as global demand for food increases there are vast opportunities for the sector on its value driven production trajectory,” he added.