The Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects report 2020/21 has revealed that the UK remains a primary export market for Ireland.
Exports of Irish food, drink and horticulture to the UK were valued at €4.3b in 2020, a marginal 5% decline on 2019 (€4.5b). The overall volume of Irish exports fell marginally by 2% in 2020, valued at €13b (compared to €13.2b in 2019).
In 2020, 33% of Ireland's total food and drink exports were destined for the UK, with 33% destined to international markets outside the UK and EU, and 34% to the EU27.
The UK represented 44% of primary Irish beef exports, although there was a decline in demand from UK foodservice. Pigmeat exports to the UK increased by 3% to €177m in 2020.
Covid-19 and the closure of the UK on-trade had a significant impact on alcohol exports to the UK, down 12% in 2020, to €199m. Although dairy continued its global growth trajectory into 2020, exports to the UK were down 13%, to €831m. Significant decline in UK foodservice and Brexit contingency planning were contributing factors.
Donal Denvir, Bord Bia's general manager for Great Britain, said: "It is really positive to see that Irish exports to the UK remain strong and resilient during this period of uncertainty. Bord Bia has been working tirelessly to support food and drink suppliers in Ireland through the impact of the pandemic and Brexit.
"Notwithstanding what the future brings, the UK will remain the largest single destination for Irish food and drink exports as we continue to navigate challenges in 2021 and beyond. Our geographical proximity, shared language and shared cultural understanding ensure that the UK will remain a key strategic partner for Irish food and drink exports."
Tara McCarthy, chief executive at Bord Bia, added: "Behind the remarkable export performance of our food and drink sector in 2020 are seismic challenges at a strategic, category and channel level.
"Last year was a pivotal year of learning for us all and 2021 will be even more significant in terms of how we apply these learnings to rebuild and drive growth in new and emerging markets.
"The success of the industry's transition to doing business virtually – from participation at online trade fairs to the development of virtual trade missions – shows that we can, and we will, rise to the challenge of doing business in new and inventive ways. This resourceful approach, coupled with the sectors' focus on customer diversification over the past decade has now paid dividends and is integral to safeguarding our exports."