Food export performance in 2020 ‘based on strong farmer foundation’ – IFA

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) says that the performance of food exports in 2020 was based on “a strong farmer foundation”.

Figures from the annual Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects Report 2020/2021 indicate that exports of Irish food, drink and horticulture produce were held to an unexpectedly small decrease of 2% in 2020, valued at a total of some €13 billion.

Also Read: Success of diversification ‘evident’ in Bord Bia 2020 export performance report

IFA president Tim Cullinan said that despite hugely disruptive circumstances, the farming and food sector “delivered for the Irish economy over the last 12 months, maintaining our presence in international markets at almost the same value”.

‘Resilience of our farmers’

“By any measure, this is an impressive performance built on the resilience of our farmers,” he said.

Cullinan said 2021 will also pose challenges for the sector and the response “will have to be robust if we are to improve the incomes of those who are most vulnerable in the food chain”.

While we avoided a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, farmers are exposed to a variety of issues – sterling fluctuations, logistical problems and trade difficulties – and we have to prepare for this.

“Today’s figures from Bord Bia show that one-third of our exports go to the UK market. We have to redouble our efforts to diversify the destination of what we produce to insulate ourselves from economic shocks.”

Success of diversification ‘evident’ in Bord Bia 2020 export performance report

According to Bord Bia, figures released in its report today (Wednesday, January 13) indicate that the ‘diversification dividend’ from opening and expanding access to new markets “is evident”. Ireland now exports agri-food and horticultural food produce to 180 countries.

The food marketing authority said that increases have been recorded in the value of Irish dairy, pigmeat and sheepmeat exports, along with very significant increases in the value of exports to Africa and the Middle East as new international markets “come to the fore”.

In 2020, Ireland’s agri-food export markets can be grouped in thirds: one-third of exports went to the UK; (just over) one-third went to the EU27 (not including the UK); and one-third went to international markets outside the EU (third countries).

Since 2016 and as of 2020, the value of Irish food and drink exports to Asia has increased 14% to €1.4 billion. Exports to Africa over the same period have increased by 86% to €883 million in value, while the EU27 grew by 25% to €4.4 billion.

In the same period, value of exports to the UK grew by only 10%.