Irish dairy farmers have probably escaped the worst of the current market slow down, according to the latest analysis from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine.

This is because the reduction in international dairy prices coincided with the low phase of the Irish production cycle.

Officials believe the medium-term outlook for dairy remains bright with growing global demand expected to support prices in the years ahead. From a trading point of view, it is now accepted this markets outside the UK and the rest of the EU will become increasingly important for the Irish dairy sector. This trend will help shelter Ireland form the fluctuations that can take place on the world’s currency markets.

Last year Ireland exported dairy produce valued at €3.0 billion to 130 countries world-wide. China accounted for almost 14% of this total at some €400m. This is an almost quadrupling of the equivalent figure for 2010.

Department analysts confirm that Ireland’s dairy offering resonated with third-market consumers, who place safety, traceability and sustainability at the core of their value proposition. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Jordan, Vietnam, Kuwait and Jordan accounted for a combined total approaching €240m in 2014. An overarching theme identified in all of these markets is the envisaged population growth, in tandem with increasing wealth and the growing acceptance of a westernised diet.

The core driver for Irish dairy exports during the period ahead, as identified within the Harvest 2020 growth strategy, will be the country’s green, clean image. Within the marketplace the key point of differentiation will be the diary industry’s strong sustainability credentials. These include a strong reliance on milk production from grass: cows graze outdoors for an average of 300 days per year. Adding to this is Ireland’s Sustainability and Quality Assurance Scheme, which is independently accredited.