Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects report clearly demonstrates that increased output does not always translate into good returns for farmers, according to ICSA president Patrick Kent.

He said as the ICSA sees from the figures, an increase of 13% in beef production resulted in a paltry 1% rise in the value of beef exports, showing that increasing output has been of little value to the economy, and has actually had a negative effect for many farmers.

“While output increased by 13% last year, beef prices fell by an average of 11%, a completely unsustainable price drop,” he said.

According to Kent, Bord Bia themselves admit in the report that beef consumption was sluggish across most markets last year, yet farmers are constantly being told that they need to increase output.

The ICSA is adamant that any future food production strategy must focus on profitability as opposed to increasing output, and  the recent Bord Bia export figures further reinforce that view, it says.

Five years of growth

Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia this week outlined the background to the fifth consecutive year of export growth for the food and drink industry.

He said that, in 2014, exports grew by 4%, representing an expansion of 45% or €3.2 billion since 2009. The strongest performing sectors were dairy product and ingredients which exceeded the €3 billion mark (+3%), prepared foods (€1.8 billion, +8%) and seafood (€540 million, +8%).

Cotter highlighted the significant shift in the destinations for Irish exports in 2014 with international markets showing renewed growth, reflected in a 15% increase in trade to stand at €3 billion or 29% of total food and drink exports.