Food Exports Hold Up Well Despite Covid

13 Jan 2021 | 08.56 am

Food Exports Hold Up Well Despite Covid

Bord Bia report highlights 2020 winners and losers

13 Jan 2021 | 08.56 am

Exports of food, drink and horticulture products declined by 2% in value in 2020 to €13 billion, according to the Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects report 2020/2021

Total agri-food exports, including non-edible products not included in Bord Bia data, are estimated at €14.3 billion in 2020, compared to €14.5 billion the previous year.

Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy (pictured) commented: “The success of the industry’s transition to doing business virtually – from participation at online trade fairs to the development pioneering virtual trade missions – show that we can rise to the challenge of doing business in new and inventive ways.

“As we start 2021, exporters are reporting solid order volumes which is a direct result of the strength of trading relationships nurtured over many years. That said, the extra costs and complexities of trade with our largest destination market, as new customs procedures interrupt the smooth flow of produce, will cause significant challenges and should not be underestimated.”

Food and drink exports break down as 34% going to the EU, 33% to the UK, and 33% elsewhere, so the problems posed by Brexit are significant.

The value of poultry exports and seafood declined last year, by 2% for the birds and 10% for the fish, though poultry volumes rose. The large decline in seafood was due to Covid-19, with disruption of exports in the shellfish category normally destined for the foodservice channel in key EU27 markets and in Asia.

However, dairy values rose 3% to €5.2 billion, while meat and livestock posted a 2% increase to €3.4 billion. Primary pig meat exports increased by 14% to €586m, and 41% of all Irish primary pig meat exports are now destined for Asia, with China accounting for most.

Covid hit the prepared consumer foods sector hard, with a 4% fall to €2.5 billion largely down to channel disruption. The decline was largely centred on prepared meats, with ‘meal solutions’ — pizza, ready meals and soups — having a strong year with a jump of 8% to €506m.

Alcohol exports were down 19% to €1.3 billion. The majority of the decline came in the value of exports of whiskey (-€205m), cream liqueurs (-€53m) and beer (-€51m).

Bord Bia’s full Export Performance and Prospects Report is available here.

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