Maize imports rise again…origins questionable

Data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that wheat and barley imports are down on the same time last year, but imports of maize have increased.

The imports are mostly used for animal feed, with some used in the brewing and distilling industries.

AgriLand gives a breakdown of some of the main figures and where these products came from below.


Maize (not including sweetcorn, unmilled, other than seed) imports increased by 80,845t from September to October, bringing the total amount imported from January to October of this year to 1.277 million tonnes (latest figures).

This figure is almost 10,000t more than the same time in 2018 – a year of severe drought and feed shortages.

The figure is 423,704t ahead of 2017.

Data source: CSO

Maize from Northern Ireland and Great Britain

These imports came from a host of different countries, but there were a few major suppliers which are outlined below.

Very interestingly, a total of 79,748t of maize crossed the border from Northern Ireland. This maize clearly wasn’t grown in Northern Ireland and so its country of origin remains a mystery to AgriLand.

Likewise, 41,119t of maize were imported from Great Britain.

Where did the majority of this maize come from?
  • Canada – 417,602t;
  • Ukraine – 347,893t;
  • Brazil – 262,186t;
  • France – 66,019t;
  • Northern Ireland – 79,748t;
  • Great Britain – 41,119t;
  • Russia – 31,792t.


Wheat (other wheat including spelt and meslin, unmilled) imports decreased dramatically on the same time last year.

The amount of wheat imported from January to October in 2019 was 159,798t behind the same period in 2018 and 21,732t behind that time in 2017.

Data source: CSO

More than 50% of the wheat imported came from Great Britain – 120,287t. France accounted for 29,773t while other suppliers included: Northern Ireland (13,643t); Sweden (9,248t); and Denmark (7,056t).


Barley (unmilled) imports also saw a significant decrease from 2018. 115,050t of barley were imported in 2019 according to the CSO. That’s 216,622t behind the same period in 2018.

It is also 29,389t behind the same period in 2017.

Data source: CSO

The majority of this barley came from Great Britain – 94,954t, while Northern Ireland accounted for 14,680t. Ukraine was another supplier at 4,301t.

AgriLand must stress that this raw data was provided by the CSO and indicates trends. Some figures may be subject to change.