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Meat Sector

Vision for the Irish Meat Sector

Maximising the value returned from the marketplace by making Irish meat the preferred choice of the world’s best customers through the delivery of verifiable selling points and consistently excellent quality.


Meat and Livestock Review and Outlook 2021/2022

Despite a second year of disruption to consumption and trade due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the total Irish food and Drink exports for 2021 were worth €13.5bn, a 4% increase on the 2020 figure. 2021 also marked the first year of trading with the UK outside of the EU’s customs union.

Irish meat and livestock exports equalled €3.5bn in 2021, displaying an increase of 4% on 2021 figures. This represents 26% of total Irish food and drink exports. 


Beef exports grew in value by 9% in 2021 to be worth €2.1 billion. This growth was underpinned by sustained strong demand in the UK and the EU. Irish exporters navigated the new trading realities with the UK following its exit from the Customs Union in January and export volumes increased after a slow Q1.


Pigmeat exports decreased by 3% in value to be worth €542 million, as lower pricing available on international markets affected the industry. This was despite an increase of 3% in the volume of exports to 248,000 tonnes in 2021. The pattern of Irish pigmeat exports were heavily influenced by trade developments in Asia and the UK throughout 2021.


Primary poultry exports fell by an estimated 15% to €128 million during 2021. This decline occurred primarily to Ireland’s major market for poultry, the UK, where the value of trade fell by 16% to €74 million. Poultry exports to the UK are heavily exposed to foodservice, which was disrupted for large portions of the year.


Tighter global and EU supplies of sheepmeat, combined with firm demand, resulted in an extremely positive market for Irish sheepmeat during 2021. Irish exporters were also able to take advantage of the increased complexity for UK exporters accessing their traditional markets including France. The value of exports increased strongly for the second consecutive year, rising by 15% to reach €420 million.


The value of Irish livestock exports increased by an estimated 6% in 2021 to reach €214 million. Increased returns from live cattle exports helped to offset lower export values for both pigs and sheep.