The value of sales in Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector increased by 5.3% from £4,020 million in 2011 to £4,234 million in 2012.

The food and drinks processing sector contributed approximately 3.7% of Northern Ireland’s total gross value added in 2012. In 2012, the food and drinks processing sector’s, as defined in the publication, contribution towards the sales (26%), external sales (23%) and employment (27%) of the Northern Ireland manufacturing industry remained unchanged. The share of value added (17%) rose slightly, while export sales (24%) reduced marginally.

The beef and sheepmeat and milk and milk products subsectors continue to be the largest subsectors, in terms of gross turnover, in 2011 and 2012. Together, they account for 50% of the sector’s total gross turnover in these years.

Britain continues to be the largest market with sales of £1,711 million in 2012 (40% of the total sales). The Republic of Ireland was the most important destination for export sales, accounting for approximately 16% of total sales in 2012. In 2012, the value of exports outside of the UK exceeded those of the Northern Ireland market for the first time in this series. All food and drinks processing subsectors traded profitably in 2011 and 2012.

The total number of direct employees in the sector increased marginally between 2011 and 2012, from 19,965 to 19,984 direct full-time employee equivalents. Employment in 2013 increased by a further 2.0% to 20,390 direct full-time employee equivalents.